Anthracite vs. Coal: Not All Coal is Alike

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Difference between Anthracite and Coal

Most people already know what coal is and what value it has on industry. Anthracite however is much less well known, although as it turns out, it is simply a variety of coal, albeit of the mineral kind. Let's see what else these two essential substances are like.

Anthracite
Coal

Definition

Anthracite is a hard and densely packed type of mineral coal that has a very lustrous quality. Of all the types of coal in existence, anthracite has the most carbon content, and it also has the least amount of impurities. Interestingly enough, anthracite also has the lowest calorific content of all types of coal. Because of the high temperatures and pressures that anthracite is subjected to, it may also be classified as a metamorphic form of rock.

Coal is a type of sedimentary rock that is typically black or brownish-black in color. It is a very combustible substance that occurs normally in nature as layers or veins in the earth. Coal is made up mostly of carbon along with other elements such as sulfur, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen.

Composition

Anthracite can be seen as the middle ground between bituminous and graphite, since it is mainly the result of the elimination of the volatile components of bituminous. Anthracite is also most commonly found in areas that have been subjected to considerable earth displacement, as in near the area of large mountain ranges. Anthracite also results from metamorphism and is related to metamorphic rocks in the same way that bituminous is related to sedimentary rocks.

Coal starts out as multiple layers of plant matter that gathers at the bottom of a body of water. In order to become coal, this plant matter will have to be covered by mud or by acidic water, which serves to prevent biodegradation as well as oxidization. Such is the case with the seas that existed during the Carboniferous period. In spite of the long years subjected to various external processes, much of the chemical and physical properties of the plant matter remain intact.

Use And Value

Anthracite is of much higher quality than many other types of coal, which makes it far more expensive as well. At present, anthracite costs about 2 to 3 times as much as regular coal, and has a price of about $150 per short ton. In the face of dwindling supplies of petroleum and natural gas, anthracite is finding increased use as an alternative source of energy.

Coal itself play a significant role in dealing with dwindling energy reserves, and may believe that it will play an essential role in feeding the demand for energy sources that petroleum and other fossil based fuels will not be able to accommodate.

Similarities and Differences

Anthracite

  • A hard and densely packed type of mineral coal
  • Has the most carbon content and also has the least amount of impurities
  • May also be classified as a metamorphic form of rock

Coal

  • A type of sedimentary rock that is typically black or brownish-black in color
  • A very combustible substance that occurs normally in nature as layers or veins in the earth
  • Made up mostly of carbon along with other elements

Anthracite and Coal Video

Which energy source is more efficient?
  • Anthracite
  • Coal
 
 

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