Coal is a commonly known sedimentary rock. It’s the world’s largest source of energy as it’s primarily carbon that’s used to generate electrical power. However here are some other facts about coal and its development and properties that you might not have known.
What coal is made of
Coal is made up of several elements. As well as carbon, coal also contains hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulphur. There are so many different types of coal, which means that the different types will contain different levels of carbon. For example, Anthracite contains 92%+ whereas Lignite only contains around 60% – 75%.
Coal originally starts out as plant matter that sits at the bottom of water or in a swamp environment which is covered and buried by sediments that will eventually change form. This process is called metamorphosis. Over a long period of time the plant matter goes from a moist, low-carbon form to coal which is a dense carbon black (or sometimes brown) sedimentary rock.
The plant material that you start with before it’s processed into coal is a mixture of organic compounds such as waxes, fats, cellulose and many other compounds. Those compounds have an open structure which are broken down into new compounds like benzene. The new compounds produced are primarily aromatic and hydromantic.
Coal is ranked on a range of different changes made, such as the decrease percentage in volatile matter. Volatile phases rich in hydrogen and oxygen for example water, co2 and methane are produced and escape from the mass leading to the coal becoming richer in carbon. Other changes are the carbon to carbon linkages, structural state and the bonds between the aromatic nuclei. Furthermore, the presence of mineral matter influences coal and many of its properties.
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