What it is

Coal is a fossil fuel just like oil and natural gas. Unlike them, coal is a solid fuel and as such it is the most exploited solid fuel for the production of electric energy in the world. Their different state is explained by the different origin of such three fuels. Whereas oil and natural gas come from the rests of microscopic organisms living in water (plankton, seashells, coral, etc.) deposited at the bottom of ancient seas, coal formed from the rests of plants of the past, the structure and form of which, albeit modified, can still be identified by means of a microscope.
Carbon is the main component of coal after the other basic components of the original living matter (hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen) progressively decayed during chemical and physical processes transforming it. The combustion of coal frees the energy of the sun stored in plants thanks to the photosynthesis millions of years ago: therefore it is an invaluable container of “fossil” solar energy.

Special reports

  • 23 October 2013

    Carbon Footprint

    A very special footprint...

    13 May 2013

    Small steps, great footprints

    Have you ever wondered how much space is taken up by an apple or a steak?...

    18 January 2016

    Ten years of oil demand

    Eni has recently published the 14th edition of the 2015 World Oil and Gas Review...

  • 18 May 2011

    Artificial photosynthesis

    The history of science and technology is packed with discoveries and inventions inspired by nature...

    10 January 2012

    Shale gas

    Unconventional gas: shale gas

    15 September 2008

    Natural gas

    Natural gas has been the last fossil fuel to assert itself on a global scale...

  • 27 September 2012

    Over 7 billion people on Earth

    Demographers have estimated that on 31 October 2011 world population...

    5 March 2009

    Biofuels

    Biofuels are one of our biggest hopes in the struggle...

    22 May 2016

    Green chemistry

    Chemistry accompanies man from that day long ago...

  • 23 October 2013

    Carbon Footprint

    A very special footprint...

    13 May 2013

    Small steps, great footprints

    Have you ever wondered how much space is taken up by an apple or a steak?...

  • 18 January 2016

    Ten years of oil demand

    Eni has recently published the 14th edition of the 2015 World Oil and Gas Review...

    18 May 2011

    Artificial photosynthesis

    The history of science and technology is packed with discoveries and inventions inspired by nature...

  • 10 January 2012

    Shale gas

    Unconventional gas: shale gas

    15 September 2008

    Natural gas

    Natural gas has been the last fossil fuel to assert itself on a global scale...

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Facts

  • Peat and peat-bogs

    The age of coal starts towards the mid 1600s, stimulated by the need for finding an alternative energy source to…

    Some curiosities about methane hydrates

    The melting of the ice cells, not only brings about the release of methane gas, but it also produces another…

    Orimulsion

    In order to improve supply security, and therefore the diversification of sources to produce electric energy...

  • Cracking operations

    At the end of the fractional distillation, long hydrocarbon molecules can be transformed into lighter molecules by means of more…

    Where does energy come from?

    Every day the Earth receives enough solar energy to satisfy the global energy need...

    Electricity and electrons

    In all electric plants, excluding photovoltaic solar plants, mechanic energy is transformed into electric energy through the same basic procedure...

  • Hydrogen from biomass

    Hydrogen is an energy carrier that allows to generate energy in an environmentally sustainable way...

    A hydrogen house

    In Settimo, a municipality close to Turin, the first Unité d’Abitation has been created...

    ITER fusion reactor

    The reactor that will be able to produce electronuclear energy without risk of explosion or radioactive waste...

  • 2 March 2011

    Peat and peat-bogs

    The age of coal starts towards the mid 1600s, stimulated by the need for finding an alternative energy source to…

    14 June 2011

    Some curiosities about methane hydrates

    The melting of the ice cells, not only brings about the release of methane gas, but it also produces another…

  • 2 March 2011

    Orimulsion

    In order to improve supply security, and therefore the diversification of sources to produce electric energy...

    Cracking operations

    At the end of the fractional distillation, long hydrocarbon molecules can be transformed into lighter molecules by means of more…

  • Where does energy come from?

    Every day the Earth receives enough solar energy to satisfy the global energy need...

    Electricity and electrons

    In all electric plants, excluding photovoltaic solar plants, mechanic energy is transformed into electric energy through the same basic procedure...

  • Peat and peat-bogs

    The age of coal starts towards the mid 1600s, stimulated by the need for finding an alternative energy source to…

  • 14 June 2011

    Some curiosities about methane hydrates

    The melting of the ice cells, not only brings about the release of methane gas, but it also produces another…

  • 2 March 2011

    Orimulsion

    In order to improve supply security, and therefore the diversification of sources to produce electric energy...