coal power

consequences of coal use

For coal to be used as an energy source, it must first be mined. Coal mining occurs at the surface or underground by methods that are described in the the chapter Materials of Earths Crust (Figure 1.4). Mining, especially underground The location of the continents during the Carboniferous period. Notice that quite a lot of land area is in the region of the tropics. mining, can be dangerous. In April 2010, 29 miners were killed at a West Virginia coal mine when gas that had accumulated in the mine tunnels exploded and started a fire. Coal mining exposes minerals and rocks from underground to air and water at the surface. Many of these minerals contain the element sulfur, which mixes with air and water to make sulfuric acid, a highly corrosive chemical. If the sulfuric acid gets into streams, it can kill fish, plants, and animals that live in or near the water. Click image to the left or use the URL below. URL:


coal use

Around the world, coal is the largest source of energy for electricity. The United States is rich in coal (Figure 1.3). California once had a number of small coal mines, but the state no longer produces coal. To turn coal into electricity, the rock is crushed into powder, which is then burned in a furnace that has a boiler. Like other fuels, coal releases its energy as heat when it burns. Heat from the burning coal boils the water in the boiler to make steam. The steam spins turbines, which turn generators to create electricity. In this way, the energy stored in the coal is converted to useful energy like electricity.

coal formation

Coal forms from dead plants that settled at the bottom of ancient swamps. Lush coal swamps were common in the tropics during the Carboniferous period, which took place more than 300 million years ago (Figure 1.2). The climate was warmer then. Mud and other dead plants buried the organic material in the swamp, and burial kept oxygen away. When plants are buried without oxygen, the organic material can be preserved or fossilized. Sand and clay settling on top of the decaying plants squeezed out the water and other substances. Millions of years later, what remains is a carbon- containing rock that we know as coal.


Coal, a solid fossil fuel formed from the partially decomposed remains of ancient forests, is burned primarily to produce electricity. Coal use is undergoing enormous growth as the availability of oil and natural gas decreases and cost increases. This increase in coal use is happening particularly in developing nations, such as China, where coal is cheap and plentiful. Coal is black or brownish-black. The most common form of coal is bituminous, a sedimentary rock that contains impurities such as sulfur (Figure 1.1). Anthracite coal has been metamorphosed and is nearly all carbon. For this reason, anthracite coal burns more cleanly than bituminous coal.


instructional diagrams

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the solid form of hydrocarbon is ______.

a) natural gas

-->  b) coal

c) petroleum

d) fossil fuel

which of these statements are true about coal?

a) coal is useful as fuel

b) coal helps generate electricity

c) coal is a sedimentary or metamorphic rock

-->  d) all of the above

what is coal made from?

-->  a) dead plant matter that settled at the bottom of swamps millions of years ago

b) heated rock from the sun

c) volcanic lava

d) none of the above

for coal to form, during burial the organic matter must be kept away from nitrogen.

a) true

-->  b) false

most coal in the united states, and worldwide, is this type

a) anthracite

-->  b) bituminous

c) subbituminous

d) lignite

anthracite is this type of rock.

a) sedimentary

b) igneous

-->  c) metamorphic

d) all of the above

coal mining exposes this element, which when mixed with air and water makes a highly corrosive chemical.

-->  a) sulfur

b) oxygen

c) carbon

d) methane

coal formed in ancient swamps especially during this period.

a) cambrian

b) precambrian

c) mesozoic

-->  d) carboniferous

coal that forms at higher temperatures burns more cleanly.

-->  a) true

b) false

how does burning coal make electricity?

a) heat boils water to make steam, turns generators, spins turbines, make electricity.

b) creates elements that combine to release radioactive material that spins turbines, turns generators, make electricity.

-->  c) heat boils water to make steam, spins turbines, turns generators, make electricity.

d) none of these.

diagram questions

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