Top 5 Facts: Uses of coal

  • Electricity

Coal-fired power stations generate 40% of global electricity. Heat from burning coal boils water, and steam spins a propeller. A machine turns this into electricity.

  • Iron and steel

About 70% of steel is created using coke, a high-carbon fuel made from coal. It is burned to melt and remove impurities from iron ore during iron and steel production.

  • Shampoo

The dandruff and head lice-zapping power of some shampoos is thanks to coal tar, a thick, dark-coloured liquid produced when goal is turned into coke or coal gas fuel.

  • Plant fertiliser

Coal can be turned into ammonia fertiliser by breaking it into carbon monoxide and hydrogen gas. The hydrogen mixes with nitrogen to make ammonia.

  • Concrete

Concrete is a building material made with cement. Coal is burned to make heat for cement production. Waste ash from coal-fired power stations can replace cement in concrete.