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Coal in our life

Coal layers
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Coal is one of the most
important energy sources
in the world

Lignite

Calorific value

<4,600
kcal/kg

Moisture content

30-75%

Fixed carbon content

No limit

Volatile matter

No limit

Sub-bituminous

Calorific value

4,600-6,400
kcal/kg

Moisture content

10-30%

Fixed carbon content

No limit

Volatile matter

No limit

Bituminous

Calorific value

5,800-8,300
kcal/kg

Moisture content

1-10%

Fixed carbon content

<86%

dry
basis

Volatile matter

>14%

dry
basis

Anthracite

Calorific value

No specific limit
under ASTM

Moisture content

<5%

Fixed carbon content

>86%

dry
basis

Volatile matter

>14%

dry
basis

Produced by SUEK Group

Derived from the organic remains of prehistoric plants, coal is an integral part of the global energy mix – alongside the other fossil fuels: oil and gas. Coal is the largest source of electricity generation in the world, providing 41%1 of the world’s supply. Global coal reserves are spreadmacross 1062 countries and proven reserves are estimated to last over 100 years at current production rates.

Coal classification

Coal is classified according to the nature of the original vegetation, the duration of its formation and – importantly – the depths and temperatures to which it was subjected.

There are several coal classifications; we use the ASTM classification by rank, which is based on fixed carbon and gross calorific value.The higher-rank coals are classified according to fixed carbon on a dry basis; the lower-rank coals are classified according to the gross calorific value on a moist basis.

Coal map

Coal

Large deposits around the world and an estimated 1141 years of recoverable reserves.

Coal formation began during the Carboniferous Period – known as the first coal age – which spanned 360 million to 290 million years ago. Comprising a mix of elements including carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and sulphur, it formed as dead plant material and became compacted under layers of sediment. Subsequent increases in temperature and pressure produced further changes over millions of years.

Coal is mined in two ways: surface (opencast or open-pit) mining or underground (deep) mining. The choice of method depends largely on the geology of the deposit.

Coal is easy to both store and transport in large volumes. A versatile fuel, it has multiple uses including heat and power generation, iron and steel production, cement production and domestic heating. It is also used in the manufacture of paper and chemicals.

Global coal reserves are distributed across

114 years of recoverable
reserves
41 % of the world’s electricity
is generated using coal
Top producers: China, USA, India,
Australia, Indonesia,
Russia and South Africa

Global coal reserves are distributed across some 701 countries worldwide and proven reserves are estimated to last over 114 years at current production rates. Coal is the second source of primary energy in the world (after oil) and the principal source of electricity generation, providing some 41%2 of the world’s electricity needs.

The advantages of coal

Accessibility – combined with ease and safety of transport and storage –
are the principal reasons that coal has long been the primary energy source
for industrialised nations.

Available
Accessibility – combined with ease and safety of transport and storage –
are the principal reasons that coal has long been the primary energy source
for industrialised nations.

Usable
Coal’s principal advantage over other energy sources is that it needs simply to be mined before it can be used. Other fossil fuels must be refined in lengthy, cost-intensive processes. Newer, more ‘eco-friendly’ sources are dependent on the vagaries of nature, which makes them – and the energy they deliver – generally less reliable solutions.

Versatile
Coal is the most versatile energy resource. As well as being used to generate some 41% of the world’s electricity, it is one of the core components in iron and steel making and the production of construction materials. Coal is integral to a vast range of processes and products, including aluminium refining, paper manufacture and chemical production.

Inexpensive
The abundance of coal, its easy accessibility, straight-from-the-mine usability and lower transport costs make it an affordable form of energy. Electricity produced from coal is less expensive than that produced from non-conventional sources such as solar, wave, wind or even nuclear power.

Available
Coal is easier and safer to transport, store and handle than alternative, highly flammable fossil fuels.

Changes for the better

Costs of extraction

  • Issues related to land and water resource access and use
  • Production of emissions and waste generation
  • Waste disposal and recycling
  • Health and safety

Cleaner coal

  • During the last 30-40 years, considerable progress has been made in developing new technologies that increase efficiency and reduce emissions. Advanced cleaning and firing technologies minimise the output of sulphur, nitrogen oxides, complex hydrocarbons, dust and heavy metals.
  • On the consumption side, new technologies are being developed to improve efficiency.
  • On the production side, increased coal washing reduces ash content by more than 50%. Clay, sand and sulphur can also be reduced, resulting in less waste and greater thermal efficiency.

Reducing pollution

  • Advances in technologies have reduced emissions of CO2 and methane (CH4) greenhouse gases per generated kWh.
  • Precipitators and fabric filters can now remove 99.95% of particulate emissions.
  • Acid rain has reduced dramatically through flue gas desulphurisation and primary abatement and control methods.
  • Recent developments herald the prospect of complete removal of SO2 and NOX gases.

Costs of extraction

  • Issues related to land and water resource access and use
  • Production of emissions and waste generation
  • Waste disposal and recycling
  • Health and safety
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