A process for forming durable, mechanically strong compacts from coal particulates without use of a binder is disclosed. The process involves applying a compressive stress to a particulate feed comprising substantially water-saturated coal particles while the feed is heated to a final compaction temperature in excess of about 100.degree. C. The water present in the feed remains substantially in the liquid phase throughout the compact forming process. This is achieved by heating and compressing the particulate feed and cooling the formed compact at a pressure sufficient to prevent water present in the feed from boiling. The compacts produced by the process have a moisture content near their water saturation point. As a result, these compacts absorb little water and retain exceptional mechanical strength when immersed in high pressure water. The process can be used to form large, cylindrically-shaped compacts from coal particles (i.e., "coal logs") so that the coal can be transported in a hydraulic coal log pipeline.
The U.S. Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. NSF ECD-9108841 awarded by the National Science Foundation and Contract No. DOE DE-FC22-93PC92578 awarded by the Department of Energy.