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.

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    World coal production, top ten countries, 2017

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    World coal consumption, top 10 countries, 2017

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    World coal consumption

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    World coal production, top ten countries, 2017

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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...