Coal and Petroleum

Introduction to Coal

Imagine a barbecue party without the coal or a bonfire without coal. It doesn’t sound well, right? Coal is an important fuel that helps us to cook, produce electricity, produce steel, etc. What is the science behind coal? How is it obtained? What are the uses of coal? Let us find out more about it.

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Introduction to Coal


The word “coal” is taken from Old English word “col” which means glowing ember. Coal is a black sedimentary rock. It usually occurs in coal beds found in coal mines. Coal comprises of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, sulphur, etc. When dead plants and animals decay and convert into peat which in turn is converted into lignite, then sub-bituminous coal, after that bituminous coal, and lastly anthracite. Hence, coal is a fossil fuel. It takes places due to geological process and takes millions of years to form. Coal is extracted by mining. China is the world’s top coal producer.

Formation of Coal


It takes millions of years for coal to form. Millions of years ago, there were places on the earth with dense forests in wetlands, due to natural calamities such as flooding, tsunami, landslide, etc these forests got buried under the soil. Over the years, more and more soil compiled over these forests. Oxidation protected these trees from biodegradation, usually by mud or acidic water. This traps the carbon that was buried in the sediments. Carbonization takes place, carbonization is a process where vegetation turns into carbon. It is a slow process.

Learn more about Coal Tar and Coal Gas here.

Uses of coal


Coal has various purposes, the following are the uses of coal :

  • Thermal coal is used to produce electricity.
  • Coking coal is used in the production of steel.
  • Coal is also used to make silicon metal which is used to produce silicones and silanes, which are in turn used to make lubricants, water repellents, resins, cosmetics, hair shampoos, and toothpaste.
  • Activated charcoal is used to make face packs and cosmetics.
  • Carbon fibre is made from coal. Carbon fibre is an extremely strong but lightweight reinforcement material used in construction, mountain bikes, and tennis rackets.
  • Activated carbon is used in filters for water and air purification and in kidney dialysis machines. Coal is used to make activated carbon.
  • Paper manufacturers use coal to make paper.
  • Coal helps to create alumina refineries.
  • Thousands of different products have coal or coal by-products as components: soap, aspirins, solvents, dyes, plastics, and fibres, such as rayon and nylon.

You can download Coal and Petroleum Cheat Sheet by clicking on the download button below


Solved Examples For You

Q1. What is carbonization?

  1. The process of decomposition of animals and plants
  2. It is the process of burning coal
  3. The process of extracting coal
  4. It is the process of conversion of vegetation into carbon

Sol: Carbonization is a process where the vegetation turns into carbon.

Q2. How is coal procured?

  1. Mining
  2. Decomposing
  3. Condensing
  4. Cloning

Sol: Coal is found in coal beds or coal seams. These coal beds or coal seams are found in coal mines. Coal is extracted with the help of the process of mining.

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