Bituminous coal

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Bituminous coal

Bituminous coal is a soft coal containing a tar-like substance called bitumen. It is of better quality than lignite coal but of poorer quality than anthracite coal.

Bituminous coal is a dense coal, usually black, sometimes dark brown, often with well-defined bands of bright and dull material, used primarily as fuel in steam-electric power generation, with substantial quantities also used for heat and power applications in manufacturing. When used for many industrial processes, bituminous coal must first be "coked" to remove the bitumen. Coked bituminous coal (usually just called "coke") is of comparable quality to anthracite coal.


The coal was created when swamps created organic material faster than it could decay, prior to the orogenies that created the Appalachian Mountains. The coal beds were compressed by overlying sediments that washed off the new Appalachian Mountains, and in some cases the coal beds were pushed west as the mountains were formed.

Bituminous coal is the most abundant coal in active U.S. mining regions. Bituminous coal is mined in the Appalachian region, primarily to be burned at electricity production plants. Mining is done via both surface and underground mines. Pocahontas bituminous coal at one time fueled half the world's navies and today stokes steel mills and power plants all over the globe.

While coal mining is an important part of Appalachia's economy, many miners are afflicted with black lung disease.

Its moisture content usually is less than 20 percent. The heat content of bituminous coal ranges from 21 to 30 million Btu/ton (24 to 35 MJ/kg) on a moist, mineral-matter-free basis. The heat content of bituminous coal consumed in the United States averages 24 million Btu/ton (28 MJ/kg), on the as-received basis (i.e., containing both inherent moisture and mineral matter).

The last words uttered by William Barton Rogers, the founder of MIT, were "bituminous coal".

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