Coal is more than just an essential component of our energy infrastructure — it’s a material with unique properties and a fascinating history. Check out our list of amazing facts about coal and learn something new about this very old resource.
For something that’s so critical to the technology and infrastructure we use every day, coal doesn’t come up in our daily lives all that often. We may sometimes see stories about it on the news, read some details mentioning it in history books, or hear parents warn their children about it every Christmas, but for so many, even the basic facts about this critical resource are completely forgotten.
To that end, we’ve compiled a few facts and figures about coal that may surprise you! Read on to learn about how coal is made, what its history is, and how it’s used today by billions of people across the globe.
Where Does Coal Come from?
Since it first kept humans warm in freezing winters several thousand years ago, coal has shaped the course of mankind. This critical fossil fuel is formed as plant matter buried by sediment transforms into solid matter over millennia — experts theorized it was first formed over 300 million years ago.
Coal in American History
America has benefited from coal since the early 14th century, when Native Americans used it for heating, sculpting, and cooking. Following the Industrial Revolution, coal became the country’s preferred source of energy, prized for its cleanliness and efficiency in generating heat. Fueling everything from arms production to rail transport, the resource quickly became indispensable to the American economy. Today, every person in the United States uses an estimated three tons of coal each year.
From the Furnace to Our Homes
Currently the world’s largest source of energy for electricity production, coal converts into electricity when burned in a furnace with a boiler. As the heated boiler water evaporates, the steam helps to create electricity by spinning turbines and generators. The United States alone uses 90% of the coal it mines to generate electricity, while China generates nearly 70% of its electricity with it.
But coal does more than just provide electric power. A major American export to countries like Japan, Canada, and Western European nations, it also contributes to the production of certain paper, ceramics, metal products, and chemicals used in manufacturing plants.
Coal’s sustained success is likely due to the fact that it’s one of the most cost-effective sources of energy on the market. What’s more, the coal mining industry has done a remarkable job keeping up with the times over its very long history, most recently by employing AI, GPS, and other computerized technologies to maximize productivity and worker safety.
Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc. is proud of its long history of contributing to the forward-thinking, innovative culture that defines the coal and utility industries For four decades, we’ve successfully controlled dust emissions for coal companies, helping them to keep pace with an evolving understanding of how mining affects the environment and people around it. Leading the world in environmentally sound dust control, Midwest’s Soil-Sement® product is used on 25% of coal in the U.S. and has been independently tested and certified by the U.S. EPA, Canada Environmental Technology Verification (ETV), California Environmental Technology Certification (Cal-Cert), and the California Air Resources Board (CARB). As you can see, we at Midwest know coal — and how to control coal dust. Give us a call today and let us help you keep this industry strong and innovative for centuries to come.