By: Megan Freeman and Daniel Glasgow

How coal is formed

The energy in coal comes from energy that was stored in giant plants that lived millions of years ago in swamp forests. When these plants and ferns died, they formed layers at the bottom of the swamps. Water and dirt began to pile up on top of these dead plant remains, undergoing chemical and physical changes and pushing out the oxygen, turning these remains into what we call coal. Today, coal is found most abundantly in the U.S, Russia, China, and India.

How coal is used

There are different types of coal used for different things. Two of them are steam coal, also known as thermal coal and cocking coal, also known as metallurgical coal. Steam coal is mainly used in power generation and cocking coal is mainly used in steel production. Based on how fast we use this nonrenewable resource, it will only last about 250 more years.

The advantages and disadvantages of coal

There are a lot of advantages and a few disadvantages about coal. Let's start with the advantages;

- It is a ready made fuel

- It is relatively cheap to mine and convert into energy

-Coal is the most abundant source of energy

- Coal supplies will last longer than oil gases

- Electricity produced from coal is reliable

- Coal can be safely stored and can be drawn upon to create energy in time of emergency

Then, we have the disadvantages;

-When burned, coal gives off atmospheric pollutants, including greenhouse gases.

-Coal will only last about 250 more years

-It affects the miners health

-It destroys the environment

-It is expensive to transport

Harmful things coal does to the Earth

Coal emits harmful wastes such carbon, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulphuric acids, arsenic and ash. Burning coal by large scale factories to power industries has led to acid rain in some regions.
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Coal: Friend or foe?