ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF COAL AS A SOURCE OF ENERGY

3 negative effect of generating electricity from coal
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Coal is a type of organically formed sedimentary rock that is burnt to release energy. Coal comes from the remains of plants and animals that were buried for millions of years.

Thermal power is electricity that is generated from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal.

Despite global efforts to reduce the use of coal in the production of electricity, some countries still use coal as a source of electricity.

Countries that are still using coal to generate electricity include China, which produces 3785TWh, followed by India, Japan, and Germany.

ADVANTAGES OF COAL

  • More efficient in thermal generation of electricity than oil.
  • Most suitable in the smelting of iron.

The use of coal as fuel to generate electricity has a number of disadvantages as follows:

sulfur dioxide and heavy metals emitted by coal is harmful

Burning coal results in the release of sulfur dioxide and heavy metals into the atmosphere .

These compounds lead to many side effects, such as respiratory damage to humans.

Pollutants from the burning of fossil fuels have been linked to diseases like cancer and asthma in several scientific studies. 




leads to formation of acid rain

The burning of coal also results in the release of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere.

Sulfur dioxide is linked to acid rain, that is, when sulfur dioxide cools in the atmosphere it forms water droplets.

If the sulfur dioxide is in large quantities, the water droplets reach a saturation point resulting in precipitation.

The rain that falls is called acid rain.

This type of rainfall is very harmful to the environment and to people.  

burning of coal contribute to global warming

The burning of coal is also linked to global warming. This is a situation whereby global temperatures go up.

Global warming also results in the rise of water in the sea, which might flood the settlements along the coast.

NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF GENERATING ELECTRICITY FROM COAL

coal is non renewable resources

Another disadvantage of using coal as fuel to generate electricity is that coal is a non-renewable resource.

Even if coal did not pollute and contribute to global warming, we would not be able to rely on them forever.

This is because coal is non-renewable, meaning they do not naturally replenish fast enough for humans to use forever.

Therefore the use of coal as a source of fuel to generate electricity is unsustainable since the amount of coal available is diminishing every day.

Usage of coal has declined due to:

  1. Discovery of other forms of energy such as petroleum.
  2. Exhaustion of old accessible mines.
  3. High cost of mining coal.

TYPES OF COAL

There are three basic types of coal. These are:

Lignite or Brown Coal

This is the lowest category of coal with a high moisture content

It is smoke because it still retains some of its original vegetative matter

It has a low heat value and carbon

It has a carbon content of less than 4% and gives out only moderate amounts of heat.

It is used mainly for the production of thermal electricity.

Bituminous Coal

It has a carbon content of between 45 and 80%. Because of this it gives off more heat than lignite.

This is the most common type of coal

Some bituminous coal has high gas content. This is called gas coal or steam and it is used for making gas.

Steam coal is the superior grade of bituminous coal

Another type of bituminous coal is used for making coke which is used in blast furnaces. This type is called coking coal.

Anthracite

it is very hard coal that has at least 90% carbon content

It is the best type of coal. This enables it to burn with great heat and little smoke.

Due to its scarcity and its high prices, it is only used when other types of coal are less

METHODS OF MINING COAL

The methods used for mining coal depend upon the distance of the coal seams below the surface, and whether the seams are horizontal or tilted.
Three basic methods used for mining coal are:

Shaft Mining

This method is used when the coal seam lays several hundreds of meters below the surface, and it involves the sink seams.

Horizontal tunnels, called galleries are formed from the shaft as the coal seams are dugout.

This is the most common type of mining.

Open cast mining-

This method of mining is used when the coal seams lie near to the surface.

Adit or drift mining

This method is used to extract coal from horizontal, gently sloping seams that outcrop along the sides of valleys.

This is used in the valleys of the Appalachian coalfield, in the USA and North-East England.

Coalfields of the USA

The main coal mining regions of the USA lies in the eastern part of the country, and it is known as the Appalachian coalfields.

There are four parts of this, which include the following:

The Pennsylvania coalfield – this occupies the northern part and it centre’s on Pittsburgh.

The North-east Appalachian coalfield – the coal seams of this field are heavily faulted and mining is more difficult. However, the coal is excellent anthracite.

The West Virginia coalfield – this lies in the central part of the Appalachian coalfield and its coal is of very high quality.

The Alabama Coalfield – this field centers on Birmingham, which is one of the largest iron and steel centers of the southern states.

OTHER IMPORTANT COALFIELDS

These are the central and western interior fields but the coal of these is inferior to that of the Appalachian coalfield. Coal from the central coalfield is mainly used for developing power for Chicago.

COALFIELD OF THE RUSSIA

Russia is the second-largest producer of coal, and most of its coal comes from two main areas

The Donbas coalfield – this is located between the river Donetz and the sea of Azov, in the area is known as the western steppe

The interior Coalfields – these are located in Siberia. The Kuznetsk, or Kuzbass coalfield, which centers on Novi-Kuznetsk, is the most important of the interior coalfields.

OTHER COALFIELDS OF RUSSIAN

The region around Tula produces lignite which is used mainly for generating thermal electricity, as does the Vorkuta coalfield, which is located in the tundra belt of Russia.

COALFIELD OF THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY (EEC)

The E.E.C.B is comprised of the U.K, Holland, Luxembourg, Belgium, West Germany, and Italy.

There are three main coalfield regions in the E.E.C.

  • Coalfields of UK. There are several coalfields in the U.K. but the most import is in Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in Northumberland and in South Wales
  • Coalfield or West Germany – most of its production comes from the Ruhr coalfield.
  • Other world coalfield – include India, South Africa and Argentina

USES OF COAL

  • Fuel: for domestic heating
  • Source of power for driving steam engines in power stations to drive dynamos which produce thermal electricity.
  • Raw material: the two chief carbonation products are released in the process.
  • Coal far: used for making fuel, oils, disinfectants, antiseptics, air line dyes (plastic performs) etc
  • Benzole: used to make motor spirit, weed killers, aspirin, saccham and sulphonamide drugs
  • Sulphate: of ammonia: used to make fertilizers insecticides, soap, explosives and chemicals for use in refrigerators.

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