Coal formation and the different types of coal.
- Peat: the first stage of coal is peat. Peat is made up of partially decomposed plant matter, accumulated in damp, oxygen-poor environments.
- Lignite : through time, high pressure and temperature conditions give rise to lignite, also called brown coal. Lignite still contains a large amount of plant matter and has a lower carbon content than other types of coal. Lignite is essentially used to produce electricity, due to its high moisture content, but not all lignites are alike. The Provence one is really specific as you’ll see a bit further.
- Hard coal: with even more time, an increase in pressure and heat leads to the formation of hard coal. Hard coal is richer in carbon and has a blacker appearance. It was an essential source of energy during the Industrial Revolution. It has fuelled industry and steam locomotives through history.
- Anthracite : Ultimately, the extreme conditions of heat and pressure lead to the formation of anthracite, the hardest and purest type of coal with a high carbon content. With its shiny black appearance, anthracite is an excellent fuel. It burns cleanly and generates intense heat, making it a popular choice for domestic heating and was extensively used in the steel industry.