During World War I, natural coal was the main source of fossil energy, even ahead of oil, which was not until shortly before World War II that it became the main source of energy. Currently, coal in the most developed countries does not have a strong relevance, since the use of oil or other energy sources predominates, but in developing countries, such as China, India or Brazil, coal has a great importance as a source of energy. In Spain there are still, and there have been many throughout history, coal deposits distributed in different parts of the country, such as Andalusia, Asturias, Castilla La Mancha, Castilla y León and Galicia.
If you are interested in knowing more about natural charcoal, such as its uses, how it is obtained and the types of charcoal that exist, then we encourage you to continue reading this AgroCorrn article on how charcoal is formed and more curiosities about it.
What is coal
Coal is a rock formed mainly by carbon and other substances, it is used as an energy source and can be of vegetable or mineral origin. Its origin occurs in the Carboniferous period of the Paleozoic era as a result of the death of the immense forests of ferns and horsetails that died and were buried in the swamps they inhabited, the lack of oxygen, pressure, water and mud prevented There was a degradation of the plants and there was more and more accumulation of these giving rise to carbon. The next section explains how coal is produced naturally in more detail.
We recommend you learn more about this topic with this other article on What is the importance of carbon for living beings .
Now that we have seen what it is, we will discuss how coal is formed by its natural process. These are the most important points in the carbon formation process:
- The charcoal comes from dead plant remains which are deposited and accumulated in shallow humid areas, being covered by water.
- As they are submerged, they are not in contact with the air, which would cause their decomposition, and due to the absence of air, the anaerobic bacteria begin a slow decomposition process.
- After a long period of time, millions of years, certain elements, such as hydrogen, are lost and they become increasingly rich in carbon.
- Being a process that lasts so long, a series of sediments are deposited on top of the plant challenges that will help maintain anaerobic conditions and that bacteria continue to do their work until the natural carbon is formed.
How to get coal
Coal is obtained through mining , either open-pit or underground mining . The open – pit mining is when the coal is not too deep, so you could do this type of extraction up to 60 meters deep, and consists of removing all the land which has the coalfield up until that it is exposed and can be removed.
The other way to obtain the coal is through underground mining , this practice is used when the coal is deeply buried. To remove the coal from such deep areas, tunnels and galleries are built where the miners extract the coal and through which they transport it to the outside.
Here you can find out how mineral extraction affects the environment
What is and how is charcoal obtained?
It is a type of charcoal that is obtained from the carbonization of wood , the trees from which this charcoal is obtained are:
- Black poplar.
- Pine tree.
Its production process consists of burning this wood in ovens at high temperatures above 500 ºC and in the absence of oxygen, the result is a carbon rich in carbon , approximately 80%. The characteristics of charcoal are that it is solid, but it is also brittle and porous.
As we have already mentioned, coal can be of mineral origin or of vegetable origin . Charcoal of vegetable origin can be of various types depending on the vegetable from which it comes and the pressure and temperature conditions to which it has been subjected. We can find:
- Anthracite: it is the best quality coal and therefore the most sought after. This coal has between 90-97% carbon, making it the one that requires the longest formation time.
- Coal: it is made up of 70 – 90% carbon, it also has a good quality, it is hard and shiny.
- Lignite: it has between 25 – 30% carbon, has a matte black color and stains the skin when touched, produces a lot of ash when burned.
- Peat: it is the one with the shortest formation time, therefore a lower percentage of carbon, this type of carbon is porous, spongy and light. It has a high percentage of humidity and its combustion generates a lot of ash.
What is coal for?
The main coal consuming countries are China, the US, Russia, India and Japan, they consume 77% of all the coal used worldwide. The applications or uses of coal are:
- The generation of electricity .
- Steel manufacturing.
- Manufacture of cement.
- Domestic use.
- Industrial processes that need heat.
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