What is coal?
Coal is a Fossil fuel or in other words a rock that can be burned and was formed millions of years ago. It looks like a shiny black or bluish colored rock. Pennsylvania coal (The type we handle) was formed in the range of 300 to 350 million years ago. During this time plants were the dominate life form and it was very moist so this moisture promoted rapid plant growth like you would get in the tropics. Examining coal pieces with a microscope parts of the ancient plant live can be seen in the coal. There things like plant cell walls, the outer surfaces of leaves and charcoal formed from fires in the peat bogs.
Coal has its origins from layers of plant matter accumulating at the bottom of a body of water like peat moss used for gardening. The organic material from years ago does not breakdown since it is underwater or under mud. With no exposure to air it is prevented from decaying. Over geological time this plant material continues to be sealed off from air and then compressed by being deeply buried under other material such as sediment that turns to rock. This pressure and high temperatures changes it’s state from organic material that was alive to a stone due to the pressure and temperature.
The resulting product is a rock that contains carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and trace elements. There are four classifications of coal lignite, subbituminous, bituminous and anthracite coal. For home heating the coal that is used is anthracite coal since it has the most carbon content and fewest impurities. To get good home heating coal we look for a selection of coal closest to the center of the anthracite coal vein with few impurities so it does not smell badly when burned, it burns hot and clean. Home heating coal is found in specific regions in Pennsylvania.
Uses of Coal
The combustion of coal results in releasing stored energy from these ancient times and is used in generating electricity, industrial power, and metallurgical processes and also is used in home heating. As a coal dealer our interest is specifically in Anthracite coal.
Coal Heating for the Home
Anthracite coal which is the classification of coal used for home heating. Anthracite Coal has the highest carbon content in comparison to the different types of coal. It also has a low moisture and ash content. These qualities make Anthracite coal burn both slowly and very hot. This makes for a good heating fuel for residential use. The United States is reported to have about 7.3 billion tons of anthracite coal which is mostly found in Pennsylvania. These supplies will last for a number of years. See the advantages of coal.