The Million Year Old Energy

Emma Stevens

What is Coal?

Coal is a dark brown or black rock made of carbon. Since it is a fossil fuel comprised of three hundered million year old dead plants, it is not a renewable resource.  There are four types of coal mines: shaft mines, slope mines, drift mines, and surface mines. Coal can be mined deep underground -only 1/3 of mining occurs here- or near the surface of the Earth -this is where 2/3 of mining occurs.

How Coal Produces Energy

 After coal is mined out of the Earth is first ground into a fine powder -this is so it will burn quickly-, this powder is then blown into a combustion chamber where it will burn. The heat produced from the previous step boils water into a steam, the steam then makes the blades of a turbine turn rapidly. The turbine is connected to a generator which contains wire coils. When these wire coils rotate quickly electricity is produced.

Coal's Cost Benefit

What are the Uses for Coal's Energy?

The majority of coal energy is used to produce power. Paper, brick, limestone, and cement industries use coal to produce products, while steel and iron industries use coal energy to smelt metals.  Most countries use coal to generate power. The five largest coal consumers are: Peoples Republic of China, Russia, Japan, India and the United States of America. These five countries account for seventy-six percent of coal usage throughout the world.

Enviormental Impact

When coal is burned it emits carbon dioxide, a green house gas. It additon to carbon dioxide, it also emits sulfur, which upon mixing with oxygen promptly turns into sulfuric dioxide. Sulfuric dioxide produces acid rain, which damages respitory systems.
The Health Impacts of Coal

Products Made from the Use of Coal

One useful by product of coal is ash. Ash is used to build roads, make cement, and to help start coral reefs. Coke -another by product- is used to smelt iron ore, make iron, and aids in the production of lead and zinc.

Advantages of Coal

Coal is more abundant than other fossil fuels. It is inexpensive compared to other fossil fuels and other alternative energy sources. Contrary to other energy sources -such as wind and solar energy-, coal is not reliant on weather. Not only can coal be safely stored, but it is also relatively easy to transport.


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