Coal is one of our three fossils fuels and is very valuable and plentiful natural global resource. Coal is formed from vegetation that has been acted upon by heat and pressure for millions of years that have produced coal seams. Coal is much more plentiful then the other fossil fuels, oil and gas, with an estimated 112 years of coal remaining worldwide. Coal is combustible and is made of mainly hydrogen, carbon and oxygen.
The energy that we get from coal is energy that plants absorbed from the sun millions of years ago. After a plant dies and starts to decay beneath the surface of the Earth it will start to release all of the stored energy that was inside of it. The coal stops the process because it absorbs the energy before it tries to make it out of the ground. Photosynthesis is what allows this whole process to take place.
Coal is so important that we have a period of history that we dedicated to when coal started to form. “Coal formation began during the Carboniferous Period – known as the first coal age – which spanned 360 million to 290 million years ago.” During this time many of the swamps and peat bogs were buried due to the tectonic movements. This is when heat and pressured caused vegetation to undergo a physical and chemical change into peat and then eventually coal. The term used when changing from peat to coal is called Coalification. Coalification is also what determines the ranking of the coal. Ranking coal does not have much to it since they only rank coal by how much carbon is within the coal.
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Coal is broken down into two major groups known as the Low-ranks coal and the hard coal. Low-rank coal is high in moisture content but low in the amount of carbon that is found in it. Which also means that it gives off less energy. Forty-seven percent of the worlds reserves are low-rank coals and it is broken down into two types of low ranks, Lignite and Sub-Bituminous. Lignite has low organic maturity and is known as “quite soft and its color can range from dark black to various shades of brown.” It is used for largely power generations. Sub-bituminous coal is formed over many more millions of years of heat and pressure. It is thirty percent of the worlds coal reserves and is used in power generation, cement processes and industrial uses.
Coal becomes blacker and harder as time goes on and it creates the “Hard Coals”. Hard coal is also divided into two classifications, Bituminous and Anthracite. Bituminous makes up fifty-two percent of the worlds coal reserves and is make up of two different types. Thermal coal, also known as steam coal, is one type of bituminous coal that is used in power generation, cement processes and industrial uses. Metallurgical, also know as coking coal, is the other type of bituminous coal that is used in the manufacturing of iron and steel. Anthracite is the least common coal found on Earth with just one percent of the of the worlds reserves being that kind. It is used in domestic and industrial fields and is also used for smokeless fuels. Anthracite contains the most carbon and the least amount of moisture.
Coal reserves are found in just about every country worldwide. Although North America dominates the coal production, other countries still yield a good amount of coal. Coal is much more plentiful in North America then oil and gas. The North American reserves hold about 120 billion tons of coal while only having about 10 billion tons of oil and 10 billion tons of gas. Russia, China and India have the largest reserves in Asia. They all combine to be home to about 200 billion tons of coal and some of the smaller countries also help out a little bit in Asia. Europe is home to about 30 billion tons while Africa has about 20 billion tons of coal. South America and the Middle East do not have much coal and are dominated by the oil and gas game.
The End of Affluence As the first European settlers arrived in America, ideas of wealth and prosperity were fully implanted in their minds. These ideas soon turned into reality, and the United States dominated the global economy up until the post World War II years. In this paper, from the Book The End of Affluence by Jeffery Mad rick, we will discuss how America has gone from domination of the ...
The countries that produce the most coal are also the ones that use the most of it. “The five largest coal users – China, USA, India, Russia and Japan – account for 76% of total global coal use.” Asia alone accounts for 67 percent of the world’s consumption of coal. Coal has many different uses but its main uses are for electrical generation, steel production and cement manufacturing. Since many of the countries can supply themselves with proper coal amounts, only about 15 percent of all hard coals are exported.
Coal also has many pros and cons to go with the substance. It’s cons start “from unhealthy and unsafe underground mines, to the environmental catastrophe of mountaintop removal, to the problems associated with handling the enormous piles of ash that are produced every day.” Also aside from all that it gives off the most CO2 emissions and that is what contributes to global warming. The EPA estimates that it gives off about 31 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions. That is the highest percentage out of any other substance in the world. Another con is that it is a non renewable resource and we don’t have an unlimited supply of it.