Related topics: carbon dioxide · fossil fuels

US energy use hit 30-year low during pandemic shutdowns

U.S. energy consumption plummeted to its lowest level in more than 30 years this spring as the nation's economy largely shut down because of the coronavirus, federal officials reported Wednesday.

New study offers roadmap for coal phase-out

Coal will need to be phased out of the world's economy to meet the climate change challenge, but this can work properly only if social objectives and local stakeholders are involved in the process, an international group ...

Cement factories can put the brakes on global plastic pollution

Hope in the midst of crisis. Overflowing landfill sites in Asia may prove to be goldmines for local cement producers. So say researchers at the Norwegian research organization, SINTEF, who have extensive experience with the ...

Coal exit benefits outweigh its costs

Coal combustion is not only the single most important source of CO2, accounting for more than a third of global emissions, but also a major contributor to detrimental effects on public health and biodiversity. Yet, globally ...

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Coal

Coal is a readily combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock normally occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure. It is composed primarily of carbon along with variable quantities of other elements, chiefly sulfur, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen.

Coal was formed from layer upon layer of annual plant remains accumulating slowly that were protected from biodegradation by usually acidic covering waters that gave a natural antiseptic effect combating microorganisms and then later mud deposits protecting against oxidization in the widespread shallow seas — mainly during the Carboniferous period — thus trapping atmospheric carbon in the ground in immense peat bogs that eventually were covered over and deeply buried by sediments under which they metamorphosed into coal. In this manner, over time, the chemical and physical properties of the plant remains (believed to mainly have been fern-like species antedating more modern plant and tree species) were changed by geological action to create a solid material.

Coal, a fossil fuel, is the largest source of energy for the generation of electricity worldwide, as well as one of the largest worldwide anthropogenic sources of carbon dioxide emissions. Gross carbon dioxide emissions from coal usage are slightly more than those from petroleum and about double the amount from natural gas. Coal is extracted from the ground by mining, either underground or in open pits.

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