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Coal Hard Facts

What is Coal?

  • Coal is a combustible, mostly black sedimentary rock composed mostly of carbon and hydrocarbons. It is the most abundant fossil fuel produced in the US.
  • There are four types of coal:
  1. lignite
  2. subbituminous
  3. bituminous
  4. anthracite
  • Coal value is determined by the amount of the carbon it contains.
  • Coal has been used as an energy source for hundreds of years and was part of international trade as long ago as the Roman Empire.
  • Coal takes one million years to create.
  • Coal mining uses two methods: underground and surface mining. Surface mining is used more because it is a less expensive method.
  • The Power of Coal

    • Coal provided the energy which fueled the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century and also launched the electric era in the 20th Century.
    • A pound of coal supplies enough electricity to power ten 100-watt light bulbs for about an hour.
    • The world uses over 5 billion tons of coal every year.

    The Value of Coal

    • There is enough coal in the world to meet today s energy needs for the next 300 years.
    • The value of coal produced in the US every year is nearly $20 billion.
    • Coal directly creates more than 90,000 jobs in the US, and indirectly creates nearly 1 million.
    • Each person in the US uses 3.8 tons of coal every year.

    What is Coal Used For?

    • The first documented use of coal in the state of Kentucky was in 1750 by Dr. Thomas Walker.
    • Coal is mainly used for generating electricity. More than 90 percent of US coal is used for electricity.
    • Thousands of different products have coal or coal by-products as components such as soap, aspirins, solvents, dyes, plastics and fibers such as rayon and nylon.
    • Coal is also an essential ingredient in the production of specialist products. Activated carbon is used in filters for water and air purification and in kidney dialysis machines. Carbon fiber is an extremely strong but light weight reinforcement material that is used in construction, mountain bikes and tennis rackets. Silicon metal is used to produce silicones and salines, which are in turn used to make lubricants, water repellents, resins, cosmetics, hair shampoos and toothpastes.

    Coal in Kentucky

    • Coal is the official state mineral of Kentucky.
    • The state of Kentucky produced 112.9 million tons of coal in 2009.

    Coal in the United States

    • Coal was discovered in 1701 in the US in the state of Virginia. 1748 was the date of the first recorded US coal production.
    • Montana is the state with the most coal reserves, although Wyoming produces more. The state of Texas is the top state that uses the most coal.
    • Wyoming produces the most coal in the US. West Virginia is the second-leading prouder, and Kentucky is third.
    • Coal is mainly found in three large regions of the US: The Appalachian Coal Region, the Interior Coal Region, and the Western Coal Region.
    • More than one-third of the coal produced in the US come from the Appalachian Coal Region. West Virginia is the largest coal-producing state in this region.
    • Texas is the largest coal producer in the Interior Coal Region.
    • Over half of the coal produced in the US comes from the Western Coal Region. Some of the largest coal mines in the world are in this region. Wyoming is the largest coal producer in the Western Coal Region.
    • The Black Thunder Mine and North Antelope Rochelle Mines in Wyoming produce almost as much coal as the state of West Virginia.
    • Coal is the official state rock of Utah.

    Coal Around the World

    • China is the world s leading producer of coal. The second-leading producer is the US, with India ranking as the third, Australia as the fourth, and South Africa as the fifth.

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