What is Coal?
Coal is a non-renewable fossil fuel. It is a brown or black shiny sedimentary rock that is found below the earth’s surface in channels called coal seams. Coal is made up mainly of carbon along with small amounts of sulfur, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. It is highly flammable. Coal is formed when dead and decaying plant matter is placed under pressure below the surface of the earth. It is the largest sources of energy used to create electricity throughout the world. Coal is mined from under the ground either by shaft mining or open pit mining.
Interesting Facts about Coal
- Coal ash which is a by-product of coal mining is used as a filler for tennis rackets ,golf balls and linoleum
- The average coal miner is 50 years old and has 20 years of experience.
- Coal has been used as an energy source for hundreds of years and has been part of international trade as long ago as the Roman Empire.
- 37% of the electricity generated worldwide is produced from coal.
- Coal reserves are spread over almost 100 countries.
- Proven coal reserves are estimated to last over 200 years
- There are 7 different grades of coal- peat, lignite, sub-bituminous, bituminous, steam coal, anthracite and graphite
- The earliest use of coal as a fuel source was in 371-287 BC
- World consumption of coal was 6,743,786,000 short tons in 2006
- When coal is used for electricity generation, it is usually pulverized and then combusted (burned) in a furnace with a boiler. The furnace heat converts boiler water to steam, which is then used to spin turbines which turn generators and create electricity.
- Coal is the official state mineral of Kentucky and the official state rock of Utah
- Coal has many detrimental effects on the environment such as acid rain, heavy metal poisoning, background radiation exposure and increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
- The energy density of coal, i.e. its heating value, is roughly 24 megajoules per kilogram.
- China is the largest producer of coal worldwide
- Australia is the largest exporter of coal world wide
- Japan is the largest importer of coal worldwide