Different Types of Coal and Their Uses

  • Coal is produced from dead and decaying material which has been accumulating under the heat and pressure of the earth’s surface. The main component of coal is carbon. Some of the other constituent elements of coal are hydrogen, oxygen, sulphur and nitrogen. Older samples of coal have higher carbon content whereas the relatively younger coal has a lower content of carbon. Younger coals have lower carbon content but higher moisture content. The most widespread and significant uses of coal are the following: (Information credit: http://omnienergy.co.za/bulk-coal/)

    • Generation of electricity
    • Production of steel
    • Manufacturing of steel
    • Liquid fuel

    There are several companies that offer bulk coal for sale. The following are the various types of coal used by people in their daily lives:

    1. Peat: Peat is formed from decaying vegetation and is considered to be the primitive form of coal. Peat is used as a crucial fuel in several industrial applications. Once peat undergoes the process of dehydration, peat becomes an effective absorbent material in order to prevent fuel and oil spills on both water and land.

    2. Lignite: Lignite is produced from compressed peat and is most commonly known as brown coal. It is a low-grade coal with high volatility. The most common application of lignite is found in power stations.

    3. Bituminous/sub bituminous coal: This type of coal is formed from compressed lignite. Bituminous coals are essentially pieces of dense, sedimentary rocks which are pitch black in colour. The most common application of this type of coal is found in the manufacture of briquettes. Bituminous coal is also utilized widely in power stations. It is also used as a fuel in heat and power applications in the process of manufacturing. Bituminous coal is abundantly used in the process of making Coca-Cola as well.

    4. Steam coal: Also known as thermal coal, this form of coal that acts as a stepping stone between bituminous coal and anthracite coal. The primary function of this coal is power generation. Previously steam coal was used as a fuel to run steam-trains. However, with time steam trains started getting out dated and thus, steam coal has become obsolete.

    5. Anthracite: It is the ignitable coal of the highest grade. Anthracite is easily recognised because of because of its hard, pitch black and lustrous exterior. This coal acts as natural smokeless fuel and has a wide range of useful applications like heating of commercial and residential spaces. Anthracite also acts as the primary source of several manufactured fuels as it generates sufficient amount of heat output and has long duration of burning.

    6. Graphite: Although technically, it is the highest grade of coal, graphite is not easily ignitable. Hence, unlike the afore-mentioned forms of coal, graphite cannot be used frequently as a fuel. The most common uses of graphite are in found in pencils. In its powdered form, it is also used as lubricating agent.

    Due to the several uses, coal has huge commercial demand.