this article treats the fossil fuel coal, further meanings, in particular for charcoal, under coal (term clarifying)
hard coal
burning hard coal
a briquette from brown coal

coal is a black or brownish-black, firm sedimentary rock, that by Carbonisierung of Pflanzenresten (Inkohlung)developed and to more as 50 per cent of the weight and more than 70 per cent of the volume of carbon consists. The hard coal is also called “black gold “.

Coal is a source of energy and by humans as fossil fuel is used.

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the raw material of coal is mainly vegetableOrigin as for example ferns (tree ferns). In the carbon, a very warm and damp climate with a pronounced plant growth prevailed to the earth-history time of origin of the today degradable hard coal. When dying individual plants these sank so to the normal in the sump and became aerobes decomposition process extracted. It developed for peat.

With sea break-downs these sumps were covered with sediments. Under the increasing pressure and increased temperature the process of the Inkohlung began. The pressure pressed the water from the peat and it developed first Brown coal. At this time the still low pressure pressed only little water from the coal. With the deposit of further layers the pressure increased and ever more waters from the coal was pressed. Gradually became outthe brown coal hard coal and with again more pressure anthracite coal. Therefore the economic quality of the coal is better, which lies deeply underground and is older.

In particular during the carbon before approximately 280 to 345 million years developed powerfulHard coal stores, which rank today among the world-wide most important energy suppliers. Brown coal stores are substantially recent date and in the Tertiary period before 2,5 to 65 million years developed.

Intended purpose

coal is used predominantly as solid fuel, in order to produce warmth by burn.Develop carbon dioxide, water vapour and other gases such as sulfur dioxide. In order to produce electricity, by means of the warmth water vapour is produced, which propels again turbines. In order to compare, which can be won energy quantity with which coal, one serves itselfusually the hard coal unit.

2003 was produced world-wide for 24.4% of the primary energy and 40.1% of the electric power by the industrielle use of coal as fuel. Hard coal and brown coal are represented thereby in approximately same strongly.

Modern coal-fired power stations set a multiplicityof techniques, in order to limit the injurious character of the waste products and to increase the efficiency of the burn process at the same time. In some countries these techniques are however not far common, particularly since they increase the capital outlays of the power station.

A not inconsiderable part thatCoal is used after its coking (see also coke) for the reduction of ores, mainly iron ore, in blast furnaces.

Starting from that 19. Century found the coal also to use for the production of town gas, which for the road lighting and thatCook as well as a heating one used. In gas works one won town gas by the Trockendestillation from the coal - a by-product was the coke. In 20. Century was replaced to a large extent town gas by the natural gas.

In 18. Century became brown coalunder the name Umber or Cöllni earth as Farbpigment uses.

Environmental problems

Braunkohlekraftwerk Niederaußem bei Köln
brown coal power station Niederaussem with Cologne

during the firing of coal develop very much climaticharmful CO 2. In particular brown coal power stations with their comparatively low efficiency discharge very much of it. ThoseCO2-Freisetzung ist prinzipbedingt und kann nicht verhindert werden, sondern nur durch einen besseren Wirkungsgrad der Kraftwerke und dadurch geringeren Kohleverbrauch in Maßen reduziert werden.

The sulfur dioxide, which develops particularly with the burn of brown coal, is jointly responsiblefor the acid rain. With modern stone and brown coal power stations the exhaust gases in flue gas desulphurating plants (see also REA , flue-gas desulphurization gypsum ) of sulfur dioxide, by catalytic (SCR) or not-catalytic (SNCR) denitrification of nitrogen oxides and in electrical separators becomecleaned by dust.

The production of brown coal in the open mining is connected with an immense land consumption. In order to be able, become to win stores as completely as possible sometimes whole villages resettled, which can lead to Konfliktpotenzial with the population (see also list of abgebaggerter localities). Perhaps also ecologically valuable areas are destroyed - a current example (conditions January 2006) is the Lacomaer pond landscape and the village Lacoma /Lakoma, which is to yield the open mining Cottbus north operated by Vattenfall Europe.

In brown coal day building can similarly howwith far, dry fields in the agriculture large dust quantities develop. Therefore the employment of efficient dust suppression technology is essential.

A further aspect is the sinking of the ground-water level on a level underneath the deepest promotion sole in the brown coal open mining. This happens with submerged pumps inspecially for it created wells. A sinking of the ground-water level can have negative effects on the Flora, since upper Bodenschichten can drying-fall. Also the sinking leads drying traps of nearby wells, which refer their water from the groundwater leader concerned to .

Turned around one leadsQuiet putting of an open mining for the increase of the ground-water level, as soon as the submerged pumps are turned off. This can lead with the buildings built in the environment to large damage. A well-known example of it is the environment of the city Korschenbroich, their inhabitant since thatgradual quiet putting of the open mining Garzweiler I with the rising ground-water level to fight to have. Unfortunately the owners of house are alone left on the part of the open mining operator RWE, so that at each individual enormous expense come.


the promotable reserves became 2004 on world-wide 783,1Billion t SKE coal estimated. Likewise of it 27% are allotted to the USA, 16% to Russia, 12% to China, 12% to India, 7% to the European union (EU-25) and 7% up Australia. With continuous consumption (2004: 3.8 billion t SKE coal) could be covered the need still for approximately 206 years.

In Germany at present about 77 billion stores t brown coal, of those 53% (approx. 41 billion t) with thatConditions of the today's technology would be profitable. Thus the supplies became when constant promotion (2004: 181.9 Mill. t) still for 225 years are sufficient.

From the German hard coal supplies approximately 24 billion applies t as profitable. In view of a current promotion ratio of 25,7 Mill.t (2004) results a theoretical range of over 900 years. Due to unfavorable geological conditions however only one part of these supplies is internationally competitively promotable.

Representatives of the German coal economy number therefore while maintaining the present deliveries the range of the GermansCoal on approximately 400 years.


Anthrazit (links) und Koks (rechts)
anthracite coal (left) and coke (right)

brown coal

brown coal one uses almost exclusively as fuel for the generation of current. It is brownish black and has a high rate of humidity, partial up to 50 per cent. Their carbon content is with 65-70% in the water-free coal. That sulfur content amounts to up to 3%. It is diminished particularly in the open mining.

In Germany there are three large brown coal districts:

time of origin of the brown coal is the Tertiary period. As is the case for the hard coal the wood of died trees plays also here a role, which went through the process of the Inkohlung under pressure and Luftabschluss. However brown coal in a recent earth age developed,therefore it differs qualitatively from the hard coal for example by higher sulfur content and a rough, loose and porous basic dimension, in which also large inclusions (every now and then whole trunks) are to be found.

With the brown coal one differentiates the gloss brown coal, matte brown coaland the soft brown coal. The sorts with a high portion of volatile components can be converted in a coking plant to coke. Depending upon temperature of the procedure one receives smoldering or coke breeze coke. Brown coal coke becomes primarily in the industrial measure the filtrationused, whereby the material replaces the activated charcoal from wood, usual in the laboratory yardstick.

Huflattich is loud the welfare plant book of Gerhard WAD from of 1938 the only plant, which can prosper problem-free on pure brown coal.

During the brown coal firing brown coal fly ash results as by-product.

See also: Would list German day-build for a listing of the German areas, in which brown coal is promoted.

Hard coal

hard coal is a comprehensive term for coals with high order. Time of origin of the hard coal is the carbon. Developed it from large jungle existence, inProcess of dying large quantities of biomass accumulated, similarly as in a peat moorland at the today's time. These deposits were partly covered in regular intervals (therefore there are several seams in the hard coal mining industry usually) by other sediments such as clay/tone and sand/sandstones.Thus the organic raw material under Luftabschluss and high pressures and temperatures were consolidated and converted until a firm group from carbon, water and flame resistant inclusions developed in the form of ash. Hard coal draws by black, firm basic dimensionsout, in which every now and then inclusions and castings of prähistorischer plants are to be found.

Dismantling districts in Germany:

the dismantling of hard coal takes place in Germany in depths (Teufe) of approx. 800-1750m. In the USA hard coal can in Open mining in depths by 0-70m to be won. Therefore this coal is many cheaper in production and is used also in German power stations more frequently than domestic coal. So that into Germany excluding coal out of the foreign country one does not flow, existsthe hard coal subsidy.

Ruhr coals become after the content of volatile components (F.B.), related to water and ash-free coal (shortened: waf), divided into the following kinds of coal:

  • Gas flaming coals [> 35% F.B. (waf)],
  • Gaskohlen [35 - 30% F.B. (waf)],
  • Fat coals [30- 20% F.B. (waf)],
  • Esskohlen [20 - 14% F.B. (waf)],
  • Magerkohlen [14 - 10% F.B. (waf)],
  • Anthracite coal [< 10% F.B. (waf)].

Fat coal

fat coal is a close coal, usually black, sometimes dark-brown, often with well recognizablebright and matte strip and is used predominantly as fuel in the energy production. A large part is inserted also for the production by warmth in the industry or for the production by coke. Fat coal is the most frequent kind of coal in the Ruhr district. YouMoisture content is usually below 20 per cent. Their carbon content is with ~ 88% in the water-free coal. That sulfur content amounts to up to 1%. A further characteristic of the fat coal is their high portion of volatile components. Therefore fat coal with one burnslong, bright and strongly soot-end flame.

Anthracite coal coal

at the other spectrum charring places regarding the content of volatile components is the anthracite coal than the most significant coal sort. It is used predominantly for private and commercial space heating. One possesses these charring placesunusually large hardness. The moisture content of freshly diminished anthracite coal is usual under 15 per cent. Their carbon content is appropriate for ash-free coal over 91% in water and. That sulfur content amounts to up to 1%. In the anthracite coal are only small volatile componentsbound. Therefore this kind of coal with a very short and hot flame of bluish color burns.Soot and visible flue gases develop only little with this fuel. The color of anthracite coal is a metallically shining dark grey, from where this fuel alsohas its name (anthracite coal griech.Gloss coal).


the coke is firm, carbon-containing arrears, which are won out asch and sulfur-poor fat coal. In coking plants their volatile components are removed, by them in a furnace under air exclusion with moreas 1400 °C one heats up, so that firm carbon and remaining ash merge. This process, the coking, belongs to the procedures of the coal refinement. Coke burns with an almost invisible blue flame. Thereby no soot developsor visible flue gas. Coke is used as fuel and as reducing agent with iron production in blast furnaces. It has a blunt-grey color and is hard and porous thereby. During the coke production coal tar results as by-product.

Pitch coal

you became in Bavaria(Penzberg, Peissenberg, striking shame, Grossweil etc.) promoted. Their age corresponds from brown coal. Due to the higher mountain pressure it has however characteristics such as anthracite coal. The lugs in the mining industry department German museum in Munich are established with pitch coal at the walls.

Oil from coal

hard coal is suitable also for the production by unorthodox oil. If the Erdölreserven become scarce, can be fallen back to the procedures of the coal liquefaction.

See also

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Hard coal
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