Coal is by far the most prominent single source of energy in America. It is responsible for the generation of 44% of U.S. electricity. While we use the lesser carbon and energy containing coals, sub-bituminous and bituminous more frequently, Anthracite coal contains the highest quantity of carbon at 92%. In order for the U.S. to embrace the use of coal for energy, we have to develop new methods of using the better quality coal, anthracite. It burns hotter and releases very little soot. Making use of high quality coal for businesses is the most immediate way to reduce the ecological effect of using coal for energy on the environment.
Ninety percent of the coal being mined in America is used to generate electricity. The remaining percentage is used for commercial and industrial purposes. Coal mining is done by one of three methods: underground mining via room-and-pillar or long wall mining, surface mining (Strip Mining) or mountaintop removal mining. Underground mining was primarily completed by blasting and drilling; now it’s completed by powerful machines. Surface mining requires fewer workers but uses very large machines; the same is true for mountaintop removal mining. After the coal bed is finished, the land is resurfaced to return it to its original contours with similar vegetation and terrain.
Types of Coal
1. Anthracite – 80.5-85.7% up to 92% of weight is composed of carbon
2. Bituminous – 44.9-78.2% of weight is composed of carbon
3. Sub-bituminous – 35-45% of weight is composed of carbon
4. Lignite – 31.4% of weight is composed of carbon
Qualities of Anthracite
Anthracite is the hardest type of coal. Anthracite is the highest quality of coal with the highest carbon content. It burns the hottest. It also contains the least amount of volatile matter such as moisture or ash and it releases the least amount of soot when it’s burned. Because of these inherent properties, it’s used in the steel making industry and the metallurgy industries.
Grades of Anthracite and Their Uses
Different grades of anthracite are used for specific industries. Because very large quantities of coal are used by power plants, using anthracite at power plants is cost prohibitive. It is more common for the less expensive coal, Sub-bituminous and Bituminous coal to be used by power plants. If anthracite is ever used at power plants, it is standard grade anthracite. High grade (HG) with a carbon content of 93.5% and ultra high grade (UHG) anthracite with a carbon content of 95% or higher are used in the metallurgical processes of sintering and pelletizing. It’s used as smokeless fuel and it’s used to fuel coal injection blast furnaces.
Anthracite is the ideal high quality coal for businesses that would promote the increased use of coal. With the right technology, manufacturers can utilize anthracite to facilitate the manufacturing process and generate far less waste and emissions than what’s emitted by the lesser grades of coal commonly used today. Anthracite burns hotter, longer and with less soot, so it’s the ideal fuel when used properly.
About the author: Article written by Jessica Nolan