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Coal Education

Coal to Liquids movie --

Lesson Plans

Coal Areas
How is Coal Formed
Cookie Bar Coal Activity
Where Does Coal Come From
Coal is More than Meets the Eye
The Geological Timeline
Classifying Rocks
The Geologist's Dilemma
Coal Combustion
The Layers to Earth
Sedimentary Rock Activities
What is a Mineral
Metamorphic Sandwiches
Metamorphic Rock Activities

How Coal is Mined --
Mining for Coal Game --
Mining With Blocks --
Students in a Coal Mine or Power Plant --
Chocolate Chip Cookie Mining -
Careers in Mining --
Land Reclamation --
Reclamation and Recycling --
Byproducts of Coal --
Coal - a TREE-mendous Resource --
The Earth: A Resource --
Electricity Serves Us --
Energy from Coal -
Everything is Made of Something
How Coal is Used
Your House Comes from a Mine
Uses of Coal
Finding Coal Products in Your Home
When the Lights Go Out!
Coal Economics


Unit Keywords
Coal, Mining, Reclamation

Unit Overview

Coal production is the amount of coal that is mined and sent to market. In 2008, the amount of coal  produced at U.S. coal mines was 1,171.8 million short tons. Coal is mined in 26 States. Wyoming mines the most coal, followed by West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Coal is mainly found in three large regions, the Appalachian Coal Region, the Interior Coal Region, and Western Coal Region (includes the Powder River Basin).

More than one-third of the coal produced in the United States comes from the Appalachian Coal Region. West Virginia is the largest coal-producing State in the region, and the second largest coal-producing State in the United States. This region has large underground mines and small surface mines. Coal mined in the Appalachian coal region is primarily used for steam generation for electricity, metal production, and for export.

Coal is used to create almost half of all electricity generated in the United States. Power plants burn coal to make steam. The steam turns turbines (machines for generating rotary mechanical power) that generate electricity.

Unit Lesson Links.


West Virginia Content Standards


Types of Coal

Lignite is the lowest rank of coal with the lowest energy content.  Lignite is crumbly and has high moisture content. Lignite accounts for about 7% of U.S. coal production.  

Subbituminous coal has a higher heating value than lignite. Subbituminous coal typically contains 35-45% carbon, compared to 25-35% for lignite. About 44% of the coal produced in the United States is subbituminous.   

Bituminous coal contains 45-86% carbon and has two to three times the heating value of lignite. Bituminous coal was formed under high heat and pressure It is the most abundant rank of coal found in the United States, accounting for about half of U.S. coal production.   

Anthracite contains 86-97% carbon and has a heating value that is, on average, slightly higher than bituminous coal.  It is very rare in the United States, accounting for less than 0.5% of the coal mined in the United States.