Coal: Roles and Uses

Most people associate coal with smeared black faces and old-school miners. In fact, coal is commonly used in today’s world, with the U.S. holding the largest recovered coal reserves worldwide.

Almost 81-percent of coal is used by power plants in the U.S. to help generate electricity. While some power producers have recently switched to more economical sources, such as natural gas, 37-percent of companies still primarily rely on coal.

Coal is produced in five U.S. states: Illinois, Wyoming, Kentucky, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Coal-fired energy is expected to decline by 2040, but coal demand is anticipated to increase as government emission policies are expected to decrease. Coal has significant roles in cement making, smelting iron ore and heating homes.

A relatively inexpensive fuel, coal production only reduced as more natural gas shale deposits were recently discovered. The U.S. does export coal, with nearly 5-percent being sold to other countries.

Ironically, coal is used for more than simply electricity. Reports show the following highlight the top five uses for coal in the U.S.

  • Electricity – Powering nearly 40-percent of electrical stations in the U.S., these power companies use the heat that is generated from burning coal and boiling water into steam, which then spins a giant propeller. In turn, this propeller generates electricity.
  • Steel and Iron – Nearly 70-percent of the country’s steel is created using a coke method. This is a high-carbon fuel that is made directly from coal. It is burned to a melting point to remove most impurities from iron ore during steel and iron production techniques.
  • Shampoo – Lice-zapping and dandruff shampoos are possible thanks to a lengthy list of ingredients that includes coal tar. This thick, dark-colored syrup is produced when coal is turned into coal gas fuel or coke.
  • Plant Fertilizer – Coal can easily be broken down with hydrogen gas and carbon monoxide to create ammonia fertilizer. When hydrogen mixes with nitrogen, ammonia is created.
  • Concrete – Coal is burned to help make heat for commercial cement production. The waste ash from this coal-fired station can then be used to replace the cement in concrete. offers coal mine loans. Their mine funding is generated towards currently producing mines, but they will also look at non-producing lands. Investors require liquidity and collateral for these types of mine loans.

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