What it is for

Coal is a widely used energy source and it is the main fuel source for the production of electric energy. Many countries strongly depend on electricity deriving from coal: in 2017 China consumed 1892.6 million toe, India 424 million toe and USA 332.1 million toe (Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018). In electric energy plants the coal is burnt to heat water until it turns into steam that, under pressure, turns a turbine, which is connected to a generator. The mechanic energy of rotation is then transformed into electric energy.
Approximately 39% of the electricity produced in the world comes from coal. Moreover, in developing countries the use of coal is still important for household tasks: heating and food cooking. The steel and metal industry uses coke: it is a solid and hard fuel obtained by heating the coal at high temperature. Coke is the raw material to produce steel. Other industrial processes use coal gases to produce fertilisers, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, etc. Tar is also obtained from coal through distillation. The natural dislike of its colour and smell did not prevent the chemistry experts of the 1700s from discovering its virtues: wood painted with tar becomes water proof and resilient against microbes. Moreover, in developing countries coal is still used for household tasks: heating and food cooking.

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    World coal production, top ten countries, 2017

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Facts

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

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    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...

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    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...