Burning of Fossil Fuels- Coal & its Types

Coal – The Burning of Fossil Fuels

Sedimentary rocks that contain flammable and inflammable materials along with water are called coal. It start forming some 300 million years ago and its composition and energy fluctuate with the source. It formed from animals and plants remains to experience high pressure in an anaerobic environment over a long period of time.

Anthracite, bituminous, and lignite are different types of coal. The percentage of carbon in lignite, bituminous, and anthracites is 50%, 70-75%, and 90%, respectively. Bituminous burns easily with a relatively long flame. Anthracite has a steady clean flame, so it is ideal for domestic heating. Moreover, it burns for a longer time with more heat as compared to the other types. Lignite and hard coal are used in electricity generation.





Fixed Carbon, the Weight percentage




Moisture, Weight percentage




Bulk density, lb./ft




Ash, Weight percentage




Sulfur, Weight percentage




Burning of Fossil Fuels

Coal has a long history in human civilization as it was an efficient and inexpensive source of energy. However, the industrial revolution resulted in real momentum in the use of coal.

During the 18th and 19th centuries coal was considered as a source of social development, before which its major use was only heating. Great Britain used large quantities of coal in smelting industries for the production of steel to build railways. In the 1880s coal was for the first time used to produce electricity for homes and factories.

Currently, the major use of it is in manufacturing steel and electricity generation. Between 1990 and 2008, there was a tremendous increase in the use of it in the energy sector is increased by almost 50 percent and it is estimated to continue to grow. Today, coal provides more than one-quarter of the world’s total energy. Coal is distributed worldwide but 65% of coal extraction is only in India (10%), China (13%), Russia (17%), and the USA (27%). In 2005, the total discovered world coal reserves consist of 795 billion tons.

Burning of Fossil Fuels- Coal

Burning of Fossil Fuels- Coal

Electricity is generated from hard coal and lignite. Hard coal has more energy than ignite and the hard coal-fired plant is more efficient in the production and consumption of heat energy. At the end of the 19th century, the first coal-fired power plant was built which used coal pieces to stoke into simple boilers. Completely dried fine powder of coal is blown into a combustion chamber and burned at a very high temperature to increase its efficiency now a day. Water is boiled from heat generated to create steam which turns the turbines with propeller-like blades. At one end of the turbine, a shaft generator is placed to produce electricity. The steam that passed through the turbine is re-condensed and heated again in the boiler.

It has several advantages such as abundant supply, inexpensive to extract, its Severe capability and reliability of generating large amounts of power. However, it has severe effects on human health and the environment. Impurities such as nitrogen and sulfur present in the coal are released in the air when coal burns and combine with water vapor in the air to form droplets of nitric and sulfuric acid which causes acid rain. No other Burning of Fossil Fuels produces more CO2, than coal as it has high carbon content. CO2 is the main contributor to global warming. 

Particulate matter released due to coal combustion affects not only the human respiratory system but also the nervous and cardiovascular systems. However, advanced coal technology burns coal more efficiently to reduce the release of carbon dioxide, remove more than 95% of the acid rain pollutants, and reduce the release of carbon dioxide by burning coal more efficiently.

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