Talk:Coal/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2


Is there any reason for the circular lignite link?


-There seems to be a contradiction in the article. How many years can we rely on coal for energy? Part of the article says it will last "300 years at current consumption rates" and another part says that there is enough coal to "supply the entire world's energy needs for the next 600 years." Is this a mistake or is there a qualifier I'm not picking up on? Please make it clearer. Merci beaucoup. --Yak 17:34, May 14, 2004 (UTC)

Peak Coal study, Gregson Vaux

This should be removed. EIA/DOE as well as other independent reports show a much longer timescale. The referenced article does not show how this particular 'hubbert curve' was calculated. Even the plot looks fishy.

I disagree that this reference to coal peaking should be removed. Perhaps one can disagree as to what the year of coal paking will be, but the concept is valid. The EIA's estimates of how long reserves will last assumes that the rate of coal production will remain constant which history has shown to not be the case. EIA also assumes that deeper and thinner coal seams are as easy to mine is thicker coal seems with less overburden. The author of the above concept does not seem to understand the distinction between peaking and running out of a nonrenewable resource. 00:28, 10 February 2006 (UTC)

Coal as a clean energy source?

GE, along with some other corporate entities, is starting an ad campaign to convince the American public that coal is an innovative and clean alternative solution to our energy difficulties as a mostly petroleum-burning country.

My opinion: Coal is significantly more abundant than petroleum, and with current technologies the emissions can be reduced to nearly nothing. However, when I say "emissions" I'm referring to nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulates, and various other nasties. So calling it "clean" basically depends on your definition of the word. No amount of filtering is going to change the fact that when you burn a carbon or hydrocarbon compound (i.e. a fossil fuel) you're going to create a LOT of carbon dioxide, which is one of the biggest contributors to global warming. It also seems irresponsible to me to say "Hey, we're in trouble because we are overly dependent on a nonrenewable fossil fuel--let's switch to a different nonrenewable fossil fuel!" It seems to me that if we use coal at all, it should be as a band-aid, as the methadone to petroleum's heroin, and in the meantime we should be aggressively and stridently pursuing truly innovative energy alternatives in the clean, renewable category (various types of solar power come to mind).

What do the rest of you think? --Kuronekoyama 03:55, 19 May 2005 (UTC)

I haven't seen the campaign; however I think I can comment. Most of what you say is correct; you miss an additional key point; creating a kilowatt-hour of electricity (or a litre of automotive fuel, which is also possible) with coal results in far more carbon dioxide emissions than petroleum, or better still natural gas. Without the use of geosequestration, coal is the worst greenhouse polluting mechanism we have. As far as reserves go, the US, at least has enough coal to provide energy needs for a very long time, so that's not really a concern. What kind of climate the world ends up with if the US goes down that road is not the most pleasant thing to contemplate.
I believe this is no longer accurate. There are alternative methods of burning coal. Some of these seem to be condusive to trapping CO2. I'm not clear on what would be done with it after that. I've added some links. Once double checked, please add some of the information to the article, and find more info if you can. Mr. Jones 13:58, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)
See Clean coal and FutureGen. Simesa 20:48, 18 August 2005 (UTC)
Coal in its current use is anything but clean. However, with scrubbers to remove pollutants and with carbon capture and storage to get rid of 80-90% of the CO2, it could do much less harm. However, this costs very much energy and increases the costs of energy from coal substantially - see carbon capture and storage. Better off with renewables IMO. Jens Nielsen 11:24, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

Use of Nuclear Power

The question of what we should do is complex, and involves many scientific uncertainties, technological questions, and philosophical questions. A key one to ponder is, if global warming is really that bad, how does nuclear power compare? --Robert Merkel 14:55, 19 May 2005 (UTC)
I agree that coal is pretty much the worst energy source with the possible exception of biomass (trees) because it produces so many pollutants, besides just CO2. I think nuclear power is actually a plausible alternative; It produces no CO2 emissions, no particulates or sulfates, mercury, nitrates, or anything, and disturbs much less land through mining. The only drawbacks are the thermal pollution of rivers (although coal plants also need cooling systems and likely use similar processes) and the long-term radioactive waste that is produced. I think our best energy option is concentrating on natural gas, nuclear power, and perhaps coal gasification/liquefaction. In terms of renewables, the only one that is even slightly economically feasible right now is wind power. Bonus Onus 22:14, May 23, 2005 (UTC)
You mention the long-term waste almost in passing. Plutonium is very nasty stuff!
Biomass is not just trees. It includes animal waste, a pollutant which could be being put to better use, grain, etc, brewed to produce ethanol and a variety of other things. Many of these are efficient. As for burning trees, it depend on which trees (and how you burn them, I suspect).
BTW, why do renewables need to be economically viable? If subsidies are good enough for the military and arms industry, why not power generation? Mr. Jones 13:58, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)
You'll have my agreement that nuclear fission is better than coal and natural gas is better than petroleum, but they're only baby-steps in the right direction. Coal gasification/liquefaction is almost as dirty as the burning of solid coal, and "coal gas" was abandoned relatively long ago for being too dangerous. --Kuronekoyama 06:51, Jun 1, 2005 (UTC)
Coal gas was abandoned as too dangerous for distribution to homes. It's not particularly bad compared to a lot of the stuff that flows around inside industrial chemical manufacturing plants. The quantites involved are probably much greater. Do you have any specific concerns?
Fission is insane. It produces plutonium which is capable of being exploded for tens of thousands of years apart from being highly toxic and radioactive. That's a long-term security nightmare. Glassification might offset that, but I'm not convinced. Can't it be reversed? Mr. Jones 13:58, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Actually, the plutonium pollutes itself long before that, and would have to be reprocessed first. Simesa 20:53, 18 August 2005 (UTC)
I think you underestimate the potential of renewables. To begin with, essentially all renewable energy is in some way solar power; as it is the sun that provides energy to our planet which would, otherwise, be nothing but a dead lump of rock. Wind is caused by pressure imbalances in the atmosphere which come about largely due to temperature differentials caused by the sun; rivers that we can dam for hydroelectric power run because the sun evaporates water from the oceans and precipitates it as rain or snow at the river's source; even fossil fuels are the result of ancient life which was either powered by the sun (plant life) or powered by eating other life which was powered by the sun (herbivores eat the plants, carnivores eat the herbivores). The only exception I can think of would be geothermal power, which is also increasingly attractive. The problem with all of these solar-originated power sources is that they are indirect and relatively inefficient. --Kuronekoyama 06:51, Jun 1, 2005 (UTC)
Some other renewables: hydraulic power, wave power, watermills and biological sources of methane (e.g. all that pig poop polluting the rivers in North Carolina [1]), etc. Some of these are capable of high yields, even if they are "inefficient". The billion year process that produces uranium is pretty inefficient, so I'm not sure that that's relevant. I guess you're concerned by the total amount of power that can be produced? Mr. Jones 13:58, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)
However, some exciting strides have recently been made in direct generation of electricity from sunlight by photovoltaic cells. A solar cell built by Spectrolab in California recently set a record by producing electricity at a record-breaking 32% efficiency. Considering that the earth receives about a kilowatt of power per square meter normal to the sun, and considering that using some few square meters of far less efficient solar paneling on their roof many houses already more than generate their own electricity, photovoltaic electricity generation is becoming a viable future prospect in energy generation. --Kuronekoyama 06:51, Jun 1, 2005 (UTC)
Amorphous sillicon (cheap and easy to make large) photovoltaic cells at 12.7% have also been manufactured. [2] I don't know if that particular technique is cheap or has the potential to be. The 32% type are very expensive at present: as the articles says, for space satellites. The price may come down, but it'll probably require a different manufacturing technique, and thus, critically, more investment and research. Mr. Jones 14:10, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)
On a related topic, the Globe and Mail recently reported that Exxon Mobil has decided solar and wind power to be commercially infeasible without government subsidy and don't plan to put any effort into it. --Kuronekoyama 06:51, Jun 1, 2005 (UTC)
Well, that's hardly a surprise, is it? :-) They make huge amounts of money distributing oil, naturally with a markup. Admitting that wind or solar can work would weaken their position that oil is the only way. Anyway, they're not going to make the same profits with wind or solar, even if it is commercially viable because they're pulling from a pre-formed, concentrated source and running up an energy debt, not harvesting energy in real time. That's not the point, though, is it? If you can make more money by beating your workers, that doesn't make it the right thing to do. (And it not being the right thing doesn't stop companies who use sweat shops from doing it, either, albeit by proxy.) Mr. Jones 13:58, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Coal is more than 10,000 times more insane than nuclear power. mentions a Harvard study of 100,000 premature deaths per year in China due to coal use

4.6 billion tons of coal released more than 20,000 tons of Uranium and Thorium in to the air there is also Plutonium mixed in with it as the Uranium reacts with neutrons. Dirty as in nuclear dirty bombs. 80 one ton bombs every day.

health impacts of coal

about 10,000 coal mining deaths per year

22000 premature deaths in the US from coal

Over 200,000 premature deaths from coal every year. Some estimates are over 1,000,000. That is more than the deaths of Hiroshima and Nagasaki every year.

carbon sequestering costs $100-300 per ton of carbon. They hope to get it to $10 per ton of carbon carbon sequestering using amine absorbers and cryocoolers. Those methods will not get the radioactive material.

Coal is killing us now. Immediately with pollution and mining deaths. And slowly with radiation and pollution and poisons. Nuclear power can be scaled up to take the place of coal. Nuclear provides 17% of our electricity. Triple the 440 plants and we are off coal. Five times and we are off oil too for electricity.

Only 1.7GW of solar panels added in 2005. 12GW of wind power added in 2005. We use 4 terawatts and are adding 150-200GW per year in power.

Economic viability matters when you look at the full scale of the problem. Nuclear plants in China are built in 4 years. $1.5 billion for 1 GW plant. MIT has ways to boost nuclear power plant generation by 50% Thus 90 1.5 GW nuclear plants per year to meet power demands. Less 10% for wind and solar. Double that to get rid of coal over 10 years. Thorium reactors and some other nuclear reactor designs can process the worst of the nuclear waste from the old designs. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Blwang (talkcontribs) 06:07, 23 October 2006 (UTC)

The linked artical ( (actually same artical is linked twice)) was sponsered by the US nuclear industry and seems to suggest that Uranium and thorium are being realised into the atmosphere because of coal burning stations. This is not true, in fact the trace quantities are too heavy and remain in the ash. The sensationist wording of this artical also suggests that there is a higher quantity Uranium and thorium than normal. Equally untrue. Here is a more unbiased survey: I would at least reference this source of information —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 23:28, 15 January 2007 (UTC).


When i first saw this word, i thought it meant food for farm animals. From reading the article on it, i found out that it simply is a material that is fed into a factory or any other plant. In this case, every use would be feedstock, and there is no reason to use this subcategory. Bonus Onus 22:05, May 23, 2005 (UTC)

Carbon tax

(William M. Connolley 13:44, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)) SEW removed:

If a carbon tax was introduced, this could make the economics of these processes significantly less attractive.

on the grounds that it was editorial comment. This seems unreasonable: it is a straightforward logical deduction from the info available, and useful too, so I've restored it.

Purity of coal mined

Coal consists of more than 50 percent by weight and more than 70 percent by volume of carbonaceous material (including inherent moisture).

Does that mean that, in weight, 50 % of the cole mined is cleared away and 50 % is used as a fuel in power plants? EnSamulili 11:41, 12 July 2005 (UTC)

Material with carbon can be burned. It means 50% can burn, so I deduce the rest would become ash, although some of the material with carbon may also become ash. (SEWilco 16:46, 12 July 2005 (UTC))
That's what I was supposed to ask more specifically: how much of the dug out material is put the furnace? EnSamulili 17:32, 12 July 2005 (UTC)
The above quote is referring to what is called "coal", which would go in a coal-burning furnace. Of course coal mining moves around other material in the process of extracting the coal. (SEWilco 19:22, 12 July 2005 (UTC))
I'm changing that to make it a little more clear. --SheeEttin 23:27, 28 November 2005 (UTC)


The article currently says, "It has been estimated that, as of 1996, there are around one exagram (1 × 1015 kg) of total coal reserves economically accessible using current mining technology". Which is it, 1015 or 1018?

Darrien 18:14, July 26, 2005 (UTC)

The original was "one trillion (1×1012) tonnes".[3] (SEWilco 21:02, 26 July 2005 (UTC))
Well 1 exagram (i.e 10^18 grams) does equal 10^15 kilograms and all that seems to match 10^12 metric tonnes. Dragons flight 20:17, July 29, 2005 (UTC)
This is a case of confusion over units. 10^15 kg is 10^18 GRAMS, and 10^18 grams is an exagram. The base unit for prefixes for mass is the gram, even though the base unit for derived units in SI is the kilogram (which is pretty odd in itself). What I'm trying to say is that the current article quote is correct in saying that 10^15kg is an exagram. Swelke 20:56, June 19, 2006 (UTC)

Coal mining history

Should this article include a history of coal mining in The United States and perhaps worldwide? How about a timeline of people exploring for coal, and places of production?

A broad global history of coal usage / mining would be useful, the article gives the impression that only the UK has a history of coal usage. I guess it's up to people to add information about the countries they know, no reason to privilege any country really. --mgaved 15:46, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

These are some quotes in contradiction with the present article (coal was not mined prior to the late Middle Ages; i.e. after ca. 1000 AD.) :

  • COAL WAS WORKED in the Roman period but to what extent is a matter for further study. Stephen Hughes (Head of Survey, Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Wales - RCAHMW)

--Theo F 13:28, 13 September 2005 (UTC)

So update the article. (SEWilco 18:10, 13 September 2005 (UTC))
In Britain as a whole the Romans used coal extensively, as a recent article in The Antiquaries Journal, testifies. : The Use of Coal in Roman Britain by Martin. J. Dearne and Keith Branigan - The Antiquaries Journal - 1996 [4]--Theo F 13:06, 11 October 2005 (UTC)

The entry states "Lignite and other low-rank coals still contain a considerable amount of inherent moisture, which is water and other volatile components trapped within the component particles of the coal, known as its macerals." How can "other volatile components" be inherent moisture unless they're h20 and if they are then they're not other volatile components they are water. Former ASTM D5 member.

I'll fix it, but next time feel free to do it yourself. I assume that the problem is a grammatical one. --Robert Merkel 05:53, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

How much energy from coal?

Does anyone know how much energy in heat one gets in burning a mol of coal? I think it should be included in the article ...

thank you, tygr007

It varies depending on the type of coal, notably with the moisture content. --Robert Merkel 13:20, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

Black coal really formed from magma?

There is an argument that black coal doesn't come from decayed vegetable matter and is instead created from the condensates of magma! The argument goes that it's brown coal comes from decayed matter.

There is no mention in this wiki of this - can anyone credit or discredit this theory? I know the accepted theory on this, however it's not the only one so for completeness should be mentioned here.

Dr. Thomas Gold has written a book called The Deep Hot Biosphere: The Myth of Fossil Fuels. There's some info on it here:

Very interesting read - perhaps if there's anyone from Russia or China who can verify that this is becoming the more accepted understanding of formation of black coal, as opposed to the common Western belief, we may be able to post both views on the main page.

Cut your two theories bit and added a short para at the end re: Gold's speculations. Don't think Gold had enough evidence for it to be elevated to theory, seems a bit of a stretch to me - but maybe I'm wrong (along with ~99.99% of geologist?)*note (millions and millions flies do not be wrong, they eat shit)* Seems Gold was good at thinking outside the box - and that's not a bad thing at all, but it's gotta be backed by strong evidence to convince us. Vsmith 03:23, 12 February 2006 (UTC)
This is speculative BS and yet another wacky theory proposed and purported by a fringe group of leaf-head individuals who come onto Wiki having never seen the inside of a coal mine in their lives.

First of all, black coal and even graphite can have fossils. It is not at all uncommon for black coal to have some (admittedly at times deformed) remains of plants. Othertimes, you can see, viz 1) dinosaur footprints in the hangingwall sediments f Jurassic sub-bituminous and bituminous coals in the Surat basin in Australia which I have seen, in a mine, with my very own eyes. Unless they had dino-booties of flame retardance, this is sedimentary. Viz, 2) plant fossils. I can get my father to take a photo of some black coal he has with a glossopteris leaf. Often black coal is transitional from brown coal with increasing depth and degree of metamorphism.

Secondly, ALL black coal, and I mean ALL is bracketed by SEDIMENTS. So how is this some effervescent ejaculation of magmatic carbon inseminating the sedimentary layers which have ample fossil evidence, and ample biostratigraphic markers to fix that coal in time and space? Magmatic origins are unneccessary and the figmen of the imagination of Thomas Gold. And who it seems, is a hero to a bunch of equally weird Russian scientists.

Arguments and bizarro-fantastique theories are OK. Trust me, when you see three foot long dino footprints on the back of a coal drive, you swiftly realise that this magmatic hypothesis is a hunk of coprolite.

Finally, if this hardly scientific link is all you crackpot joyboys can come up with the defend your vandalism of well-established science with suppositions of a suppositorial nature, then I'm afraid there'll be some revertscoming along. Grah. .

How freaking conventient.Rolinator 14:28, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

Edits to main page were revised

I added a reference to difference of views on creation of black coal and user Vsmith has revised to good effect.

Since then I've found other supporting articles. It appears Russia has actually adopted the newer views on the creation of black coal and is using them with success.

It doesn't appear this is bogus information however I would still like to hear from anyone in Russia who can provide an authorative statement on the matter.

Why ask a Russian? Lets see. Anyone want random sprinking of appeal to authority from the Red Ice link?
  • "In fact, oil is abiotic, not the product of long decayed biological matter." A fact? I thought it was in dispute, according to (theory of) Abiogenic petroleum origin
  • "In fact, working in the 1950s, Russian and Ukrainian scientists, cut off from the Western World's oil supply, applied their keen minds to the problem and, by the 1960s, had thoroughly demolished the idea of oil as a 'fossil fuel,'" Cut off from the world's oil supply? Like the ones in central asia that Hitler wanted so bad? What is it called...the Kaspian Sea? OMG! WTF!
  • "In fact, realizing that oil is a self-renewing resource puts the neocon agenda into a new perspective." Wow, if facts were as easy to discover as saying it out loud and holding your mouth at the right angle, I'd be able to say, in fact, I have a ten inch dick and fifty bazillion bucks and MAdonna takes it in the butt. Because it's a fact.
Or, shall it reveal its secret solicalist bias, this website purporting to show the fruits of the Communist man's sweaty, stolid brow and the Capitalists' evil Machiavellian demonic prowess at economically enslaving mankind? Like...
  • "America's feels it must make war to take other people's oil: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, the Caspian Basin, Sudan, etcetera." Oh no, not evil capitalist America! Taking the oil!
  • "And we will get in bed with them so long as we can have the lion's share of their oil, and the say-so as to who gets the rest. And therein lays the evil genius, secret and sham of the 'Peak Oil' put on." Wow. This is high science and a reputable journal to boot! Quick, let me cite the living figgins out of this motherf'ing article, its perfectly objective!

Oh! Then we cite reliable sources, like the website; The "Citizens Electroal Council of Australia". Lets go into the details;

  1. Aussies are the incompetent slack-jawed yokels of global politics. We do whatever America says, then we do it again because we're dumb. Trust me, I am one.
  2. The CEC are a mid-left loopy brigade of "concerned citizens" who are all for internalising and parochial policies because, you know, we can do without the gooks and chinks and wops and dagos and towelheads running the place! Lets all elect our dumb yokel selves! Because a rich American billionaire tells us to, in case the aliens zap our nonexistent brains! Yeah. Real credible source there.
  3. Lyndon LaRouche. Need I say more?
  4. Lyndon Larouche. There, fight tin-foil hats with tin foil wiki hats! Lydon for Prez!
  5. 'WANKSPEAK. In his subsequent search for a metrical standard for this treatment of the functional role of cognition, he adopted the Leibniz-Gauss-Riemann standpoint, as represented by Bernhard Riemann's 1852 habilitation dissertation. Hence, the employment of Riemannian conceptions to LaRouche's own discoveries became known as the LaRouche-Riemann Method. Uh-huh. Yeah. He's got a strong wrist is all I get outta this.
  6. Red Ice is, shock! a LaRouche mouthpart! Fuck me drunk and call me Sally, I smell a political bias!

In short, cause this has gone on and I think amply demonstrated that all who propose that Coal is non-organic are asshats, this is BS and should be removed from the debate. Cheers, Sally, AKA Rolinator 14:47, 19 February 2006 (UTC)

Serious discussion of Borderlands link and Kudraytsev

OK. Several points;

  • In what is known as Kudryavtsev's Rule "any region in which hydrocarbons are found at one level will be seen to have hydrocarbons in large or small quantities, but at all levels down to and into the basement rock." Where oil and gas deposits are found, there is often a concordant coal seam or seams above them. Where the vertical stacking of hydrocarbon deposits is found such as in Iran, Java and Sumatra, and Oklahoma amongst other locales, drill shafts for oil and gas wells penetrate shallower coal beds. Gas is usually the deepest in the pattern, and can alternate with oil. All petroleum deposits have a capstone generally impermeable to carbon's upward migration, and this capstone provides the damming mechanism allowing accumulated deposition.
  • Rebuttal:
    • Firstly, it is fallacious to say that all basement rocks in all coal/oil/gas regions have been drilled. And, methane is NOT a hydrocarbon insofar as it can be produced abiogenically (which no one argues) or biogenically. But, again, not all basement rocks have been drilled.
    • Secondly, not all oil regions have coal above them. Younger oil deposits (Cretaceous and younger) do not have significant coal seams above them, certianly not black coal which could be produced by "magma" or whatever the fuck. Corrollary to this is, there are NO Permian brown coals left because a) under the orthodox coal formation theory, brown coal exists close to the surface and, hence, near-surface older rocks are less well preserved. So of course we only have sub-bituminous and bituminous ranked coals of >Cretaceous age preserved! Everything else has been eroded.
    • Sedimentary sequence stratigraphy explains coal being above oil as a consequence of a move from predominantly marine conditions to terrestrial-fluvial conditions as a basin fills with sediment. Ie; you pour enough mud into the ocean, you form a delta, which grows a bog, which forms coal, voila. You have coal lying over the top of an oil source rock deeper in the basin. You do not need the mantle to be seeping oil to explain this.
    • Gas is not always the deepest in the pattern. Gas is associated with all other coal seams and oil deposits. Gas, if it is in the lowest part of the basin, may be separate from oil because either a) the oil has migrated upwards b) the lowest source rocks in a basin are devoid of sufficient kerogen to produce oil or c) it is abiogenic methane. The last is not conclusive proof that oil comes from the mantle and coal comes from magma. If it did, there should be no vertical segregation of oil and gas and coal. In fact, the deeper you go, the more likely you should be to find coal seams. Why don't we? See the point above.
  • Earthquakes, like volcanos, may also be related to upwelling hydrocarbons. The shifting of large subterranean gas volumes could easily account for earthquake action and could also provide a workable model for tsunamis.
  • Rebuttal;
    • Firstly, seismic evidence of tectonic plates is quite coherent when it comes to where earthquakes lie and how this relates to plate tectonics. This argument here is selective in its evidence. On one hand, we use the mantle and plate teconics to argue for regional distribution of oil and gas, and then we discount tectonics as an explanation for Earthquakes.
    • Further to this, if you consider than oil is produced from structural traps including fault-closed sub-basins, fault-bounded stratigraphic pinchouts, etc, the production of these trapsites is linked inextricably with the imparting of structure from plate tectonics. It should be no surprise then, that linear arrays of oil deposits are found when you zoom out on a map to a massive scale. For instanc, the linear array in the figure on that site may be interpreted as being related to the distribution of land, from which coal or oil can be drilled, versus the true distribution. I do note, quite readily, that very little in the way of data is given on marine occurrences of oil on that figure, perhaps because to put that on would disprove the whole point of the figure?
    • And, further to this, sedimentary basins form adjacent to plate tectonic boundaries, especially in an arc environment like Indonesia or Malaysia. Also, and this is a good question to answer, why are there no hydrocarbon deposits being exploited in Greenland, which is sitting astride a major spreading zone, if there are mantle hydrocarbons? Why doesn't coal form above oceanic plates in deepwater sediments? Why is coal always formed in delta-lagoonal or fluvial environments? Does it miraculously pick these rocks as a trapsite, or is the orthodox view (backed up by dino footprints and fossil evidence) more correct?

More rebuttals of Abiogenic evidence

  • OK, some other rebuttals of the "evidence" used to support these abiogenic theories;
    • Meteorite Orgueil was found to contain amino acids, which are NOT the so-called 'petroleum' products purportedly found in meteorites according to this paper, used as a citation to support abiogenesis. So, if you are lacking actual hydrocarbons and have 70 amino acids which can be catalyzed by HCN, you do not have proof that petroleum (ie; long-chain hydrocarbons) can be formed abiogenically.
    • Meteorite Murchison

"The meteorite also contained hydrocarbons which appeared abiogenic in character and was enriched with a heavy isotope of carbon, confirming the extraterrestrial origin of its organics." So, the debate is hardly over, and these hydrocarbons, amino acids and "sugars" are hardly evidence that we have crude oil formed in space, like the links supplied as evidence seem to suggest. Let no one be confused; synthesising amino acids abiogenically is plausible; synthesising short-chain hydrocarbons is plausible. Add a bit of oxygen, and you get a "sugar". We are, however, debating whether or not it is more likely that the vast majority of oil and coal on Earth is biological or not, and hence whether it is possible to abiogenically create these deposits, and so far, the evidence is weighted towards producing ONLY simple, chort-chain "organic" compounds.

    • The article also uses the following argument for magmatic coal and/or abiogenic coal:

Vein-like deposits of coal have been described, such as the Canadian type known as Albertite, suggesting the possibility that the coal was at one time liquid. This is a further nail in the coffin for the increasingly tenuous conjecture that the coal beds are merely ancient swamps & peat bogs. It is almost a certainty that the coal was injected as a liquid into the fissures. In the case of Albertite, a vein coal from New Brunswick, Canada, liquid petroleum is found in cavities, as well as in cavities of related shales.
Firstly, albertite is asphalt, and was formed as the solidified liquid residue of an oil show within the culmination of an anticline, so it is formed from oil, not coal as is claimed. Thus, this is NOT evidence of coal discordant with stratigraphy. Secondly, this hardly discounts the ideas of biogenic petroleum let alone coal, since the whole idea of oil traps is that they leak, and are temporary, hence why albertite was formed. Hell, just go ahead and read the description by geologists in the 1860's who discount "liquid coal". Seems out abiogenic proponents, including the russians, are misrepresenting the truth about these Albertite occurrences, meteoric "petrochemicals" and so on, to make their point.
This is bias and as such, negates the value of their arguments.

I'm sorry. I could go on ad infinitum. Kudratsyev's theories are fine for a tiny, minuscule proportion of hydrocarbon deposits, usually of small-chain hydrocarbons such as methane, ethane, propane and butane, in the rare Proterozoic basement rocks (but even in these cases they are Neoproterozoic rocks ~500-880 Ma old and life's been around for 2400 Ma, so this could be contamination). But it fails, utterly, to explain any of the major carbon deposits of the Earth in any satisfactory manner when you actually put it to the test. Sites like Borderlands and Red Ice are all well and good if you just want a comforting story about how the big bad Corporations suck ass major-league and are oppressing you. But this is science, people. If these shitty hypotheses make it onto Wikipedia and sound like fact, they are little more than political statements. In my opinion, this encyclopedia can remove all these quasi-political statements from the Science pages, and leave them to rot in the unwanted shit heap of tinfoil hat land. I, for one, will not sit by and idly let LaRouche and people who actually believe a criminal knows about geology, get away with reducing articles like this to little more than alt-web counterculture monuments.Rolinator 03:46, 20 February 2006 (UTC)

And, methane is NOT a hydrocarbon insofar as it can be produced abiogenically (which no one argues) or biogenically.

What on earth do you mean by this? Methane is a hydrocarbon, regardless of the source. Ordinary Person 23:06, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

Spontaneous combustion

Coals are usually mined wet and may be stored wet to prevent spontaneous combustion.

This statement from the article sounds logical, but is questionable. If I recall correctly, higher rank coals do not have the spontaneous combustion problem that lower rank (higher moisture) coals do. The primary method of preventing spontaneous combustion in sub-bituminous coals is compacting to exclude air (oxygen), not wet storage. I have seen a stray pile of (sub-bituminous) coal begin smoldering on its own if left exposed to the atmosphere for a few days. --Blainster 17:02, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

As far as I am aware, there are anthracite seams in India which are burning uncontrolled. While harder to ignite a low-volatile coal, once going, it is also harder to put them out. I think you are probably right; low rank coals are more prone, because they have alpihatics, and the carbon isless pure, making the C more readily oxidised (volatile bonds more accessible to adding O2 and combusting).
Seam gas is probably the most salient point to make here; methane will tend to be the most volatile, flammable compound, and most sub-bituminous coals are quite methane rich. Anthracite, by comparison, ought not to be very methane rich. Genrally speaking.
Another mechanism by which ores (including metallic ores) can combust is volatile sulphides, especially the notoriously reactive marcasite. The only way to stop marcasite going up is to keep it wet; and aside from this specific case, generally if you keep a coal wet, it won't go up. Water keeps oxygen levels down, helps dissolve methane and neutralise it as a methane-hydrate, and also tends to keep marcasite inert. Comminution of the coal will increase surface area of the coal, which might not be what you want...except for liberating more methane, which would help...but not if you have marcasite, because it would make it more volatile.
In the end, the sentence is fairly correct. It is a omplex problem to do with methane, volatile content, and whether or not there is sulphides. And as you can see, such an explanation as I've given, isn't easily condensed onto the main entry.
Rolinator 12:11, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

POV on Peak Oil

I believe "Coal liquefaction is one of the backstop technologies that will limit escalation of oil prices and mitigate the alleged effects of peak oil..." is a clear violation of the NPOV policy. Calling peak oil's affects "alleged" denigrates them as a lesser concept, and there is no assurance that synfuel "will" do anything. I am editing this section. Windupcanary 3 June 2006

The effects of peak oil are a matter of ongoing debate. Some authors foresee considerable dislocation and disruption to industry and transport. Other consider that there will be no special effects of the arrival of the point of peak oil, and that an informed market will smooth the transition to alternative forms.

I have re-edited the article to reflect the fact that this is a moot topic.

Ordinary Person 23:40, 11 April 2007 (UTC)


What is pit-coal [5]? Cutler 15:46, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Pit-coal is an early term for what we call coal, that is, mined coal. [6]. Contrast with "char coal", or what we call charcoal, which is made by burning wood in a reducing atmosphere. --John Nagle 06:02, 20 July 2006 (UTC)

Removal of magmatic coal theory

Basically, this was agenda pushing by the people from abiogenic petroleum origin. I don't know who did it, but I missed the part where the presence of vanadium and other heavy metals in coal was "interesting to note", almost like you only get vanadium and heavy metals from, I don't know...the mantle? And like thats some klind of proof that coal is formed according to some hinky and provably false theory spouted by a crazy astrophysicist who only managed to pollute the scientific world with his crap because he had tenure and couldn't get fired.

The fact is that there is vandium, cadmium and nickle in everything, including provably biological objects such as a human being. This does not mean if a human has 1ppm vanadium as most coals do, that humans are formed by the seepage of petroleum along faults from the mantle. This is specious and illogical fallacy and as such, it is not worthy of even considering in any kind of online encyclopedia. Leave it up to Kenney and the GRC wackjobs to promote drilling the mantle for oil.Rolinator 02:29, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

Oh, you found someone saying carbon fuels come from magma? Who? (SEWilco 21:15, 13 August 2006 (UTC))
Where are you living, in which world can you conscionably say that "plants are also proof against organic origin"? Just think about what you are saying here.
You are a clear Gold proponent. You are saying, by the satamant that plants are also proof against organic origin in your reversion of the image caption and reinstatement of the fantasy of magmatic coal, by whatever alchemy or magic proposed by Gold, that fossilised plant matter is not produced by plants, and that you support the idea of a mechanism by which plant fossils (which are not organic, right...because you said they weren't. Because plant fossils are put there by the bearded sky fairy or something) somehow trap upwelling oils and are converted to coal only at a certain point. And nothing else traps upwelling oils. Or, we can scoot over to abiogenic petroleum origin, and watch you live out your deluded fantasy world where you believe that oil comes from the mantle. Seriously, you are really taking the cake when you say plants are also proof against organic origin. That is simply the biggest fallacy ever known to man. Rolinator 00:30, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
As Gold pointed out, plants embedded in coal is not proof that the coal itself was formed from the plants. One point is that the plants were not destroyed by the process which created coal, supposedly by the conversion of plant material If you find animal remains in the La Brea Tar Pits does that mean the asphalt is of animal origin? And did I say the mantle is the known source? (SEWilco 05:05, 19 August 2006 (UTC))
OK, so why do we find higher degrees of preservation of fossils from black to brown to lignite to peat? Does this fit more with the theory of increasing coal rank converting pplant material to coal (reduced carbon) or does it fit with the whole "magic" of coal being miraculously nly formed in plant fossil bearing strata several feet thick only in thoroughly zeolite-facies metamorphosed sedimentary rocks which fit defined sedimentological associations? If he (Gold) or anyone can find ANY proof of a sub-bituminous coal which lies within non-sedimentary rocks, which does NOT contain ANY plant material, I will eat humble pie. The orthodox coal theory is science which, since you obviously forget how the scientific method works, I will remind you is formed from continual testing of hypotheses to provide a theory from which we explain nnatural pghenomenon. If the theories of coal formation have stood the test of time for over 150 years without a single verifiable case of an exception to the rule being seen, then Iam afraid that the plant matter in coal (because it is so pervasive and constitutes ALL of the mass of the coal) is proof of origin from biological sources. When you find coal without plant matter (not the asphaltite) then you may deign to claim it is magmatic. After all, where are the coals which are not associated with terrigenous sediments and plant matter? Your arguments are based on a perceived contradiction which is not there at all.Rolinator 01:56, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
Gold did say that plant matter, such as peat, was a component in bituminous coals. Search for "anoxic" in The Origin of Methane.... And as the definition of sub-bituminous coal requires plant material then of course it must be present, but please do ask Gold for examples and let us know if he answers.[7] And I'm not claiming the source must be magmatic. (SEWilco 06:09, 20 August 2006 (UTC))
Of course, black coal is formed by abiogenic processes. Mercury is commonly found in coals and there is no biological processes with mercury association because mercury is poisonous. Other heavy metals such as nickel, vanadium, lead, and arsenic, uranium have close association with coal. Methane upwelling from earth's mantle through deep faults that form oil and gas fields, at near surface promote coalification and preserve vegetal and some animal tissues. Also bitumen as in tar pits. Preservation of fossils creates a paradox. Probably coal could form as solid hydrocarbons or peat coalification by methane upwelling.
Mercury is typically NOT accosiated geochemically with mantle derived hydrothermal processes. It is typically associaed with low-temperature hydrothermal processes...typically less than 150 degrees. In essence, diagenesis can prompt mercury to remobilise, and coal, being carbon, is a great reductive trap for metals. So its no surprise you would find mercury in coal. Or any metal. As for vanadium, nickel, etc, there are 'mineral particles associated with coal. Whether they be in volcanic ash interbeeds or sediments, ALL rocks contain some trace of vanadium, nickel, etc, even if it is a few parts per million. So, quote some figures at me for ppms of metals in coal ash and see if you get to a typical mantle amount of several hundred ppm Ni, >100ppm V, >200ppm Cu, etc. And then with a coincident <5ppm Zr, <1% Al, <0.5% K, etc etc. Arguing that coals have trace metals in them as being interesting is fine, but frankly, I don't think its interesting that coal has trace elements in it. Its pretty bloody obvious that coal will have trace elements in it. Rolinator 01:56, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Removed several instances of personal attacks and incivility. Let's tone down the language and avoid personal attacks. Vsmith 20:44, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Difficulty in extinguishing underground coal fires

As a non-geologist layperson, I would be very interested in seeing more detail added to the Coal Fires section. Specifically an explanation as to how it is that underground coal fires are able to burn for so long (since a person's notion of a "fire" is probably something that burns much more rapidly than coal and requires much more rapid delivery of atmospheric oxygen) and what the challenges are in extinguishing such fires. BobbyPeru 19:09, 16 September 2006 (UTC)


Under the heading 'Liquification' it is stated that "The Fischer-Tropsch process of indirect synthesis of liquid hydrocarbons was used in Nazi Germany, and for many years by Sasol in South Africa — in both cases because those regimes were politically isolated and unable to purchase crude oil on the open market." As it stands, this statement is misleading. It is correct that both countries did not have crude oil resources and large coal stocks. Under the respective political dispensations of the time, it made sense for both countries to address oil needs using the available coal. However, South Africa has always been able to buy crude oil from the Middle East (notably Iran) and during the oil crisis of the 1970s South Africa held large crude oil reserves, later disposed of. It should be noted that today, 12 years after minority rule in South Africa was replaced by majority rule and supposedly re-access to international markets, South Africa continues to produce a large proportion of its liqued fuels and other chemicals through coal liquification. Jan Viljoen 09:16, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

Estimate of total energy value

The text says:

The energy value of all the world's coal is well over 100,000 quadrillion Btu (100 zettajoules).

Could I ask for a ref on this? It seems to require there to be about four times the mass of total reserves. Ordinary Person 13:18, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Actually it is even higher, 290 ZJ total coal on the planet, see section below for references Frank van Mierlo 04:34, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

It's a paper reference, so I'll have to track it down and check its references, but I can't think how anyone could arrive at a figure over 30 ZJ. Ordinary Person 07:53, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

To highlight my objection: the WP article states there is about 1 x 10^15 kg of coal, and that the average energy per mass for coal is 24 MJ per kg. If you do the maths, this makes the total energy 24 ZJ, an order of magnitude lower than given in that reference. I can only assume that the author of that paper made a mistake or a typo. Ordinary Person 23:17, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

Coal fastest growing energy source

"Coal is the fastest growing energy source in the world, with coal use increasing by 25% for the three-year period ending in December 2004 (BP Statistical Energy Review, June 2005)." Coal comsumption is indeed growing fast, but the 25% consumption increase 2001-2004 does not appear to be what the cited source says. BP Statistical Review of World Energy (June 2006--I don't see the 2005 version) includes historical data from 1965. 2004 world consumption is 117.5% of 2001 consumption according to these figures. Consumption continued to increase even more rapidly in 2005; 2005 consumption exceeded 2002 consumption by 20.4%. Suggested edit: "Coal is the fastest growing energy source in the world, with coal use increasing by 20% for the three-year period ending in 2005 (BP Statistical Energy Review, June 2006)." 16:35, 12 December 2006 (UTC)Carmen Giunta

Coal Reserves

The coal reserves have been estimated at 290 ZJ by Tester et all and 270 ZJ by Wes. Annual energy consumption of the planet is 15 TW confirmed by BP, EIA, and the IEA. 15 TW is a little less than 0.5 ZJ/per year so the coal reserves are enough for 600 years. I changes the text of the article accordingly. References: Wes Herman, Global Climate and Energy Project at Stanford University Sustainable Energy" 2005 The MIT Press by Jefferson W. Tester et al. ISBN 0-262-20153-4 - Page 303
Frank van Mierlo 04:31, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

I refer you to this table, which estimates the coal reserves at 30 ZJ. This seems to gel more with the energy density of coal and the mass of current reserves. Ordinary Person 23:34, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

That table seems sourced to UNDP 2000 WEA, WEC 2001 and WEC 2002 with old links. WEA 2000 summary pg 6 says 452 years, WEC Sustainable Global Energy Development: The Case for Coal pg 35 "At current production levels, proven coal reserves are estimated to last over 200 years." WEC 2004 pg 1: "the proven reserve base represents nearly 200 years of production at current rates." (SEWilco 20:37, 12 July 2007 (UTC))
EIA says total recoverable reserves of coal 1 January 2003 was 998 Billion tons (about 26 ZJ), and production in 2004 was 113.4 Quadrillion BTU (about 120 EJ). The key word may be "recoverable". What's a factor of ten among friends? International Energy Outlook 2007 Chapter 5 Coal 02:36, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
EIA says "998 billion tons—reflecting a current reserves-to-production ratio of 164", with no mention of 26 ZJ. Is that 164 years? (26 ZJ / 120 EJ is 216?) (SEWilco 20:37, 12 July 2007 (UTC))
Yes that is years, since one is a total and the other is production per year. Don't forget that energy content of coal varies from 27.4 Million Btu/ton to 4.4 Million Btu/ton. 18:07, 13 July 2007 (UTC)
I did not forget. But I'm not the one crushing rock and publishing the numbers. (SEWilco 02:26, 14 July 2007 (UTC))
IPCC "Total coal in place is estimated at about 220-280 ZJ … about 22.9 ZJ are classified as recoverable reserves (WEC, 1995a; 1998), over 200 times current production levels. … estimates additional recoverable reserves at about 80 ZJ" (SEWilco 20:47, 12 July 2007 (UTC))

EIA estimates are made by a group that has strong economic interests in coal. There are significant problems with their estimates, and recoverable coal may be only about 20% of EIA estiates. See J. Goodell, 2006, Big Coal, Houghton Mifflin Co. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk)

This article is too long. I propose to use summary style here and to move the current information of this section into a new daughter article Coal reserves. Beagel 16:18, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

Is it just me, or does it seem that there must be some wild inaccuracy in the data given in the World Coal Reserves section? There's a 164 years of coal at current production levels estimate, and a 285 years remaining estimate. The second estimate involves a slightly higher guess as to the amount of coal (about 15 percent higher). But most of the disagreement seems to be in the amount of coal use. In the first case, the estimate is about 6.1 billion tons per year, and in the second case, 3.8 billion tons per year. I understand not knowing how much coal reserves exist and how much of that is accessible, but how can we have no clue how much coal is being produced?? The article claims that 6.19 billion tonnes of coal were produced in 2006 (no citation given). If true, then it would appear the first estimate is more accurate. I would suggest that the 285 year estimate (and the 300 year estimate higher up in the article) be discarded in any case, unless a source can be found -- the online source the article cited no longer exists. Kier07 (talk) 03:38, 23 March 2008 (UTC)

Aah, seems that the cited 1.08 trillion tons of recoverable coal was based on an out-of-date source. The access date was 2005; the table given in the source has been updated since then, to give a total of 998 billion tons. Turns out this was also an EIA source, that's why it's the same number. Anyway, I moved the citation up where 998 billion tons is first mentioned, and changed the numbers in the paragraph to conform to the new estimate, e.g. 263 years instead of 285 years. However, citations are badly needed for coal use in 2001 as it compares to total coal reserves, or failing that, this paragraph should probably be deleted. Seems to me the 263 year estimate entails an unrealistically high energy yield per unit mass of coal. Kier07 (talk) 04:59, 23 March 2008 (UTC)

Is coal a hydrocarbon?

Are different kinds of coals hydrocarbons or do hydrocarbons consist a major part of coals? This article does not say that coal is a hydrocarbon, but other articles, like the articles on hydrocarbon and fossil fuels say that coal is, or consist mainly of hydrocarbons. 22:53, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

It depends on the rank of the coal. Lo rank lignites have significant water and evenprotein and lipid molecules remaining from the plant matter, which are hydrocarbons (as, too, by tis definition, is vegetable oil). However, anthracite is emphatically NOT a hydrocarbon as it is over 95% carbon, hence it is...carbon, basically. So, you have a spectrum, but in essence, technically it is, but in reality most people do not cnsider coals of all ranks a hydrocarbn per se, rather a carbon resouce. Hope this didn't uddy the waters too much! Rolinator 16:27, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

I would say that lignites contain hydrocarbons, but it would not be true to say that any rank of coal is a hydrocarbon. Ordinary Person 23:04, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

Removed reference citation

removed ref by user:JzG

ref "". Retrieved September 9, 2005.  External link in |title= (help) /ref

J. D. Redding 22:20, 11 April 2007 (UTC)


Are we really sure that coal is pronounced /ˈkəʊl/? I don't think I pronounce it this way. I don't believe I've really heard others pronounce it this way. Either there is something I don't understand about the IPA, or this pronunciation is specific to a certain region, in which case other pronunciations should also be given. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 07:02, 15 April 2007 (UTC).

I think perhaps it is something you don't understand about the IPA... That's the normal pronunciation of coal and I've not heard it pronounced otherwise. əʊ is the dipthongue found in words such as boat and show. Ordinary Person 03:49, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

But why is the pronunciation put here in the first place? It is not some obscure word or name or something. -- 09:58, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
Well I don't know. Ordinary Person 11:42, 15 July 2007 (UTC)


Any idea why 'petagram' and 'long tons' can't be replaced by "metric tons"? It's impossible to convert these numbers to things that regular people will understand. Lequis 04:43, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

Heck, if it was up to me, it would all be in kg. Utilisez SI ou mourez!!!! Ordinary Person 08:03, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

Okay, I changed some of it, Lequis. Ordinary Person 08:34, 11 May 2007 (UTC)



I see that thereis an image here ... uploaded this ...

Use or file-13 ... J. D. Redding 23:09, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

WEC/BP 2002 Energy Survey

Why are the 1999 figures still being used and not the updated 2002 figures? See web page -

It is always frustrating to see numbers that are a few years old. 01:56, 11 July 2007 (UTC)

Tons vs. Tonnes

Can someone check to see if the multiple occurances of tons should be converted to tonnes? Would this create or reduce havouc between short tons, long tons and metric tons? 18:50, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

Agreed. The mix of units is very confusing, especially for non-Americans. Can we get rid of the non-metric units altogether? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:30, 9 July 2008 (UTC)

Global Warming

I have reworked the introductory paragraph into a NPOV statement, one that presents the existence of both sides of the issue, but does not advocate one position over the other. I do not think it would be appropriate for the article coal to become a battle ground on the debate of what causes global warming, so an aside regarding that topic should be sufficient. - MSTCrow 20:19, 9 August 2007 (UTC)

The reason your good faith edits have been reverted is that Wikipedia is not a debate. The global warming article is a featured article, and this article's lead is a good summation of coal. The choice of words "is considered" is an accurate representation. It does not say coal is considered to cause global warming, it says that CO2 is considered to be the primary cause of global warming, which is entirely accurate. 07:00, 10 August 2007 (UTC)
This was gone over on the IP's talk page. "Considered to be the primary cause of global warming" is weasel wording. Scope is ignored. If anyone or everyone considers X to be true, one can write that it is "considered to be" true. This is why there are prohibitions against weasel wording, and a general trend towards specificity. Presenting both sides of an issue in brief does not a debate make, and this was noted above. It is irrelevant that another article is a featured article. That has no bearing on the status of this article, or its requirement for a NPOV. - MSTCrow 23:37, 10 August 2007 (UTC)
The referenced article summarizes the state of WP knowledge concerning global warming. If you want to take exception to the findings reported there, then you need to change that article. Misrepresenting the findings reported there by inserting your opinion here will be reverted without hesitation. --Skyemoor 02:30, 11 August 2007 (UTC)
That is why I stated that the referenced article was a featured article, to indicate that it had been well sourced and well reviewed. Comments made on IP page are hard to find, but when seen copied to the users page who wrote them. I always review talk pages of articles that I edit. Much better to leave comments here. 03:16, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
I added a few words to the Coal Burning section to be consistent with the comments above. In the section, it previously stated that carbon dioxide is the primary cause of global warming. A similar statement was made about methane. I revised using "widely considered" and "purported" to be consistent with the idea of making the statements less absolute. I recognize weasel wording dilemmas, but seriously, this accurately portrays the qualitative information without misleading. Jtabbsvt 18:35, 1 October 2007 (UTC)

Not necessary. The "debate" over global warming is long over. The "debate" was a farce created by the people who wanted to pretend that it didn't exist. There is no reason to cater to them. It's an insult to honesty and good science. 02:29, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

If we're talking about this part:

It is the largest single source of fuel for the generation of electricity world-wide, as well as one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide emissions, which is considered the primary cause of global warming. Coal is extracted from the ground by coal mining, either underground mining or open pit mining (surface mining).

Then I don't see a problem with the global warming statement (except "is considered" isn't specific), but saying it is "one of the largest sources" is a weasel approach and sounds uninformed. I will try to improve. -Theanphibian (talkcontribs) 18:08, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

Unsigned froth aside, it is entirely unproven whether CO2 is cause or effect or even related. I have edited to the term "allegedly" a source of global warming. If a better word is available, by all means edit it, but it is not a proven, undebatable fact--there are lots of professionals who dispute it. And the NYT is not a primary source, nor even a reliable source on most matters. It's a popular paper for lay people, not a professional journal.Mzmadmike (talk) 17:01, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Your good faith edit was removed. "Allegedly" is weasel wording and is not allowed in Wikipedia articles. wp:weaselNitack (talk) 19:08, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Amount of coal remaining

"At the current global total energy consumption of 15 terawatt,[30] there is enough coal to provide the entire planet with all of its energy for 57 years." This sentence is not supported, and ignores the growth in coal consumption trends, and is therefore unencyclopedic. Please support it per WP:RS or it will be removed shortly. --Skyemoor 02:35, 11 August 2007 (UTC)

Actually the only reason it is there is because someone else had the questionable statement that coal could provide the entire planet with all of its energy for 600 years, which was based on the typographical error that has been fixed. Feel free to remove. The source was simple arithmetic of the numbers given. 03:41, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

support for 57 years: Goodell, Jeff. Big Coal. Houghtom Mifflin Co. Boston, 2006 —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 21:07, August 21, 2007 (UTC)

Page number? 01:35, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

largest source of carbon dioxide

since when was this true. Oil and it's bi-products exceed by far any other source of energy when it comes to CO2 emmisions. Someone needs to change that statement. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:27, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

The article does not say anywhere that coal is the largest source, it says it is one of the largest sources. Coal and oil are so close to each other that it is not easy to definitively say that either is the largest. Coal is also increasing much faster than oil, which is likely to be declining soon, if it hasn't already begun to decline. 17:12, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

Question about units

The article sometimes measures coal consumption in tonnes (metric tons, one tonne = 1000 kg) and sometimes in tons, which could be either the short ton (2000 lb) or the long ton (2200 lb). (See the section, "Coal as Fuel".) Is this change intentional or simply a typo?

Mhklein 20:55, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

Chemical Formula

Should we add a chemical formula on the page? I couldn't find one. I'm not quite sure of what it is, but I know it has Hydrogen and Carbon in it for sure. § Eloc § 02:37, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Reversal Trends in the United States

Would be a good subsection, as coal plants have been rejected in Kansas and (I think) Washington, and plans have been scrapped recently in Utah as well. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:02, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

I would actually like to add a section summarizing Coal power in the United States, and that article, though short, does already talk about this to some degree.-Theanphibian (talkcontribs) 22:55, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

Here is source noting reversals in 2007, if someone wants to incorporate this. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:46, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

Add other uses for coal

Need to add other uses for coal that do not put CO2 into the air, such as making things with carbon. (talk) 02:43, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

Environmental Effects

I have added the introduction from the main article to that section. There needs to be more than just a link in the section. Especially considering the undeniable effects of coal on the environment beyond even global warming, this was a needed section in the article. Perhaps it can be refined a bit, but this is a start —Preceding unsigned comment added by Nitack (talkcontribs) 15:43, 1 April 2008 (UTC)

Rate of Formation?

Under mainstream (biogenic) theories of coal origin, is there any information available on the rate of formation of new coal? For example, is coal deposited at a more or less constant (but obviously very slow) rate by existing peat bogs, or do deposits begin forming after cataclysmic sedimentation events in bogs? If it is the latter, how long does the coal formation take? The article would benefit from such information.-- (talk) 16:35, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

The article doesn't really say much at all about its formation which seems like a major thing it is lacking. I found this quote: "In an article published in the Journal of Organic Chemistry in 1984 (Volume 6: 463-471), the ANL reported that all that was required for coal to form was that wood with alkaline clay as a catalyst must be buried deep enough that there is no oxygen, with a ground temperature of 150 degrees Celsius, and you will get coal in only 36 weeks. Further, it was noted that if the temperature were higher, the coal would form faster." Lomacar (talk) 03:17, 15 June 2008 (UTC)

BBOE -- barrels of oil equivalent

In the subsection titled "World coal reserves," consider the following sentence: "The 998 billion tons of recoverable coal reserves estimated by the Energy Information Administration are equal to about 4,417 BBOE (billion barrels of oil equivalent)." Note that BBOE is an abbreviation for "barrels of oil equivalent." BB stands for "barrels," not "billions of barrels." I'm a humble consumer of energy, not a professional in the coal and oil industry, so I'll leave it to the experts to decide whether to change the page. Telecomtom (talk) 16:32, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Retraction: According to the U.S. Geological Survey's chapter on abbreviations and acronyms, BBOE stands for "billion barrels of oil equivalent." So no change needs to be made to the page. Mea culpa. Telecomtom (talk) 02:37, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

"120,000-year-old Stone Age coal hunting camp"

On reading the source provided for this recent addition it seems that the prehistoric camp was discovered because of mechanical excavations to win coal at a modern-day open-cast mine. There is no mention of coal being used as "campfire cooking fuel". This item crops up here from time to time, sourced from the same article, and as before I propose to remove it promptly. One previous flurry of edits here. --Old Moonraker (talk)

Removed. --Old Moonraker (talk) 07:22, 12 June 2008 (UTC)

Proximate Analysis

There is a table showing the ultimate anlaysis of coal for the purpose of providing the German classification. The more commonly used analysis details Moisture, Ash, Volatile Matter, Fixed Carbon and Calorific Value. Grindability (as in the Hardgrove Grindability Index) is also a common coal stat. Would it make sense to include a section on these attributes? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:45, 24 July 2008 (UTC)

Pakistan reserves

i just looked up the statistics from the website which puts pakistans LIGNITE COAL RESERVES AT 38 018 MILLION TONNES AND ITS SUB BITUM AT 2 822 MILLION TONNES needs changing. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:42, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

can you just put the link, where you saw this information, I can then change the table.Hussain (talk) 19:07, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

UK Coal Reserves

The United Kingdom article (Economy section) states that 'The UK has a small coal reserve...'. I've heard people say that the UK has enough unmined coal to last hundreds of years, so I had a look here. The UK doesn't appear in the section World Coal Reserves, although I found this and this. Is the reason for the discrepancy that the reported reserves are not proven to be recoverable, or are the media reports wrong? Anyone have an opinion on this and whether or not the United Kingdom article is correct? Thanks. Daicaregos (talk) 08:37, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

Was the question too difficult? Daicaregos (talk) 21:24, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

Yes. :) Skipper 360 (talk) 07:32, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

I'll try to simplify. The table, entitled 'Proved recoverable coal reserves at end-2006 (million tonnes (teragrams))' in the Coal article, under section 'Production Trends', subsection 'World coal reserves', does not include an entry for the United Kingdom. This source states that there are enough 'untapped coal reserves in the UK to last 400 years.' and this source states that there 'are around 250 million tonnes of coal not yet mined in South Wales' (obviously this excludes the rest of the UK). My question is: Is the table incomplete, are the two BBC reports incorrect, or is there another explanation? Thanks, Daicaregos (talk) 09:09, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

Mongolia's coal reserve

There are large coal deposits with billions of tons of coal reserves in Mongolia's Gobi ([8]). So, Mongolia should be included in the list of the countries with the largest coal reserves. --GenuineMongol (talk) 05:59, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

Basic statistic

I inserted the following information:

"In the US in 2008, coal retailed for $19.79 per 1 million BTUs.-ref-Ryan, Matt (June 20, 2008). Homeowners seek cheaper winter heat. Burlington Free Press. -/ref-"

An editor removed it. I want to leave it here for future consideration.

This is a fairly basic figure for a researcher trying to make comparisons with other fuels. None can be made about efficiency without a similar figure. Wikipedia articles are often missing costs without which no decisions can be made at all.Student7 (talk) 11:37, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

The problem is that the price constantly changes, just like petroleum. Also, where the coal comes from affects its price. This page[9] would be worth looking at. If we want to put up historical prices, that can be decided on, but stating a set price is not going to be accurate. --Terrillja (talk) 00:34, 29 October 2008 (UTC)


There are different units used in the production, export and reserve tables: (million tonnes (teragrams)), (million tonnes) and (million short tonnes). I worked on the format of the tables today and noticed this. While I don't want to change any wording I think these units should all be consistent and I think this is a simple change for someone familiar with this subject. Mrshaba (talk) 02:28, 30 October 2008 (UTC)


One other suggestion. Move the chemical formula diagram of coal out of the lede. I looked for a logical location for the diagram but didn't find one. Regardless, the lede should stand with a simple shiny lump of coal. Badaboombadabang ya know... Mrshaba (talk) 02:33, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Shiny, eh? Hmm, you're one for controversy. ;-) --Sumthingweird (talk) 13:23, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Coal Formation

This article is very light on material concerning the formation on coal. One sentence is not enough. It doesn't mention the time spans involved, nor the Carboniferous period, nor the major taxa that contributed to coal deposits... --♦♦♦Vlmastra♦♦♦ (talk) 02:26, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

More information on the formation of coal and some interesting images of coal through a microscope showing its plant composition are in this article on —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:04, 27 December 2008 (UTC)