Sub-bituminous coal

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Sub-bituminous coal is a type of lower grade coal which contains 35%-45% carbon. The properties of this type are between those of lignite, the lowest grade coal, and those of bituminous coal, the second highest grade of coal.[1] Sub-bituminous coal is primarily used as a fuel for steam-electric power generation.


Sub-bituminous coals may be dull, dark brown to black, soft and crumbly at the lower end of the range, to bright jet-black, hard, and relatively strong at the upper end. They contain 15-30% inherent moisture by weight and are non-coking (undergo little swelling upon heating).[2] The heat content of sub-bituminous coals range from 8300 to 11,500 BTu/lb or 19.3 to 26.7 MJ/kg. Their relatively low density and high water content renders some types of sub-bituminous coals susceptible to spontaneous combustion if not packed densely during storage in order to exclude free air flow.


A major source of sub-bituminous coal in the United States is the Powder River Basin in Wyoming.

Current use[edit]

Sub-bituminous coals, in the United States, typically have a sulfur content less than 1% by weight, which makes them an attractive choice for power plants to reduce SO2 emissions under the Acid Rain Program.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Coal explained - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)". Retrieved 2020-09-26.
  2. ^ The Babcock & Wilcox Company (2005). Steam: its generation and use. The Babcock & Wilcox Company. pp. 36–5. ISBN 0-9634570-1-2.