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Hello all and welcome to todays blog, today we will be exploring the different types of coal.

Coal was and still is an extremely important power source, powering the industrial revolution and pushing forward China and India this past few years.

How is coal made?

Coal is formed from dead and decaying plant matter which has been subject to heat and pressure under the earth’s surface for millions of years. Coal is made up mainly of carbon, along with varying quantities of other elements, mainly hydrogen, with smaller quantities of sulphur, oxygen, and nitrogen.

Older coal generally has higher carbon content. Younger coals have a lower carbon and calorific content, the fuel is dirtier, and the moisture content higher.

How many types of coal are there?

There are six main types of coal that are regularly used by humans:

Peat

Peat is formed from decaying vegetation, and is considered to be the precursor to coal. Peat is an important industrial fuel in different areas such as Ireland and Finland. When dehydrated, peat becomes an effective absorbent for fuel and oil spills on both land and water.

Lignite

Lignite is formed from compressed peat, and is often referred to as brown coal. Lignite is a low ranking and highly volatile coal which is used mainly in power stations. It is sometimes found in European briquettes.

Bituminous/Sub Bituminous Coal

Formed from compressed lignite, bituminous coals are a dense, sedimentary rock which are usually black in colour, but can sometimes be a dark brown. These coals are widely used in the manufacturing of briquettes, and are also used in power stations, for heat and power applications in manufacturing, and to make coke.

Steam Coal

Steam coal is the stepping stone between bituminous coal and anthracite. It was once used to fuel steam trains, and as the use of them declined, so did the use of steam coal.

Anthracite

Anthracite is the highest rank of ignitable coal. It is hard, black and glossy, and as a natural smokeless fuel, is used primarily for residential and commercial space heating. Anthracite is the main source of many manufactured fuels, and provides a good heat output and long burning times.

Graphite

The technically highest ranking coal, graphite is difficult to ignite, and is rarely used as a fuel. It is mostly used in pencils, and as a lubricant in its powdered form. An allotrope of carbon and one of the world’s softest minerals it can be made into a one-atom-thick cylinder of graphene that is a super-strength material used in sports equipment.

Thank you for reading

Danny Hodgson Master Chimney Sweep Devon

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