Smokeless fuel is a necessity for homeowners who live in smoke free areas and wish to burn fuel in a home stove or open fireplace.
Whilst smokeless fuels can be found naturally in the form of anthracite, most of the ones you will find in the local garage, supermarket or coal merchants will be manufactured. Anthracite is used as the main ingredient in smokeless fuels; it is a hard, shiny form of fuel that burns with maximum efficiency and a glowing flame and naturally contains a very high carbon content, sometimes as high as 97%, which means it contains fewer volatile materials and doesn’t give off any thick acrid smoke when it is burned.
Manufactured smokeless fuels use anthracite as it’s base because of the qualities it demonstrates.
How is it made into the smokeless fuel we buy?
To manufacture smokeless coal, firstly, the naturally occurring anthracite is ground down into powder before being re-formed into briquettes of even form by combining the powder with a smokeless binding agent such as starch or molasses. These formed briquettes are more versatile than natural anthracite as they can be used in many different appliances, including multi-fuel stoves, room heaters and open indoor/outdoor fires.
Smokeless fuels were developed to combat air pollution in heavily populated areas. Whist most home heating is now done with a central gas heating system, many homes still adopt a fireplace to heat their home, to save money or simply for a more decorative feel. Smokeless fuel became popular after the 1956 Clean Air Act; an act brought about after the ‘Great Smog’ of London in 1952.
All smokeless fuels have to conform to the standards set out in this, and subsequent acts, to produce less than 5g of smoke per hour of burning. When this fuel is burnt it produces less emissions and compared to normal coal they produce up to 20% less carbon dioxide. Smokeless fuel can be found at your local coal merchants.