Uses of Coal

Coal is something that we might have come across at least once in our lifetime. It is a common substance used in many homes and even in big industries. That being said, we will be studying about coal and some of its uses here.

Coal is basically a combustible sedimentary rock usually occurring in parts known as coal beds or coal seams. It is usually black or brownish-black in color and generally takes millions of years to form. Coal is formed mainly by geological processes. It is a type of fossil fuel created from the remains of dead plants many years ago. It has been classified as a nonrenewable energy source.

Further, coal is composed of elements like carbon, sulphur, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen amongst others.

Different Uses of Coal

Coal is seemingly the cheapest and most essential source of energy. Here is a list of all the major uses of coal.

  • Generating Electricity
  • Production of Steel
  • Industries
  • Gasification and Liquefaction
  • Domestic Use

Generating Electricity

Coal is generally used in thermal power generation which further helps to produce electricity. Powdered coal is burnt at high temperature which further turns water into steam. This steam is used to turn turbines at high speed in a strong magnetic field. After this, electricity is finally generated.

Production of Steel

In the steel industry coal is used indirectly to make steel. What happens here is that coal is baked in furnaces to form coal coke. Once this is formed, manufacturers use coal coke to smelt iron ore into iron and make steel. Meanwhile, ammonia gas is usually recovered from coke ovens and this is used to manufacture nitric acid, ammonia salts and fertilizers.


Many industries use coal to manufacture certain products. Some of the popular industries which make use of coal are the cement industry, paper and aluminium industry, chemical and pharma industry amongst others. Coal provides numerous raw materials like benozle, coal tar, sulphate of ammonia, creosote, etc. to chemical industries. Coal is mostly used as a source of energy is most of the industries

Gasification and Liquefaction

Coal can be turned into synthetic gas which a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. These gases are an intermediate product that can be further converted into different products like urea, methanol, pure hydrogen and more. Coal can also be turned into liquid known as synthetic fuels.

However, these chemicals produced from coal are used primarily to make other products. Besides, most of the products out there in the market have coal or coal by-products as components. Some of them include aspirins, solvents, soap, dyes, plastics and fibres which include nylon and rayon.

Specialist Products

Coal is also an essential ingredient in the production of specialist products such as activated carbons, carbon fibre and silicon metals.

Domestic Use

In cold regions and in developing or underdeveloped countries coal is still used as fuel for cooking and a source of heat.

These are some of the top uses of coal. To know more about the properties and different types of rocks and minerals you can keep visiting BYJU’s or download our app for interesting content and learning experience.

Practise This Question

Which of the following is/are molecular solid(s)?