How is Coal Formed?
Coal is fossil fuel or fuel that comes from the remains of prehistoric plants or animals.
The formation of coal occurs over millions of years via a process known as carbonation. In this process, dead vegetation is converted into carbon-rich coal under very high temperature and pressure.
Minerals and energy play a very important role in the modern world. Rapid evolution in industrialization and growth in human population has increased the usage of minerals and different forms of energy to a very high level. But one has to understand that the natural resources are not unlimited. Fossil fuels such as natural gas, petroleum, and coal are used to meet most of our energy needs.
Process of Formation of Coal
First Stage – Peat
This is the first stage in the formation of coal. It is an organic substance which is formed due to the partial decomposition of dead matter. The partial decomposition is due to the accumulation of the matter underwater which cuts off the oxygen supply.
Second Stage – Lignite
This is the second stage in the coal formation. It is a dark brown matter formed due to the pressure exerted by the sediments overlying the organic matter. It consists of traces of plants
Third Stage – Bituminous Coal
This is the third stage in the formation of coal. It is formed due to the added pressure. This is also called as soft coal.
Fourth Stage – Anthracite Coal
This is the fourth stage in the coal formation. It is formed due to the high pressure and high temperature for a long period of time. It is hard, lustrous and has the highest percentage of carbon among peat, lignite, bituminous and anthracite. This is also called as hard coal.
Petroleum and natural gas deposits are usually found in the coastal regions.
Uses of Coal
- Coal is a typical conventional solid fuel that has been exploited as an important source of fuel by humankind for thousands of years.
- The main use of coal is as fuel for electric power plants for which more than 50% of the coal produced in the world is used.
- The simplest use of coal is to burn it for heat. Coal was once used as a household heating and cooking fuel in Western nations.
- Other uses of coal that may be increasingly important in the future are in the production of liquid fuel by direct or indirect liquefication to replace fuels made from petroleum, production of methanol a possible substitute for gasoline and production of synthetic gases.
Fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum mainly originate from the buried plants, animals and microorganisms which were buried more than a hundred million years ago and were subjected to high temperature and pressure continuously. Overlaying of sediments over the burial results in the formation of fossil fuels due to exposure to high pressure for a very long period of time.
The 3 main types of Fossil Fuels are Coal, Oil & Natural Gas.
- Natural coal is formed due to the burial of plants and animals.
- Petroleum and natural gas are a result of the buried marine life.
- Fossil fuels are mainly made up of Hydrocarbons.
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