Coal continues to be the world’s most important sources of energy in the 21st century in countries like South Africa. Statistics say that above 90% of the electricity generated in South Africa is from coal. Different stages of coalification, from peat to anthracite, have different physical and chemical properties.
Anthracite coal has the highest carbon content (80 percent to 95 percent) amongst the four forms of coal and finds its place in many industries. Sulphur and nitrogen content in anthracite is less than 1 percent each. Due to its cleaner and hotter burning properties anthracite coal is in high demand in the industrial belt of South Africa. It is considered to be the hardest and oldest form of coal as it has already faced high pressure and heat underground. However, hardest coal is also the most brittle form of coal. These properties of anthracite have many advantages in the modern era.
Use cases of anthracite coal:
Given below are some of the important applications of anthracite coal in South Africa.
- Anthracite coal generates a hot, blue coloured flame when it is incinerated. As this form of coal does not leave much ash behind, it has become an expensive, yet favourite option to heat up residential and commercial buildings during the winter. It is used as a fuel for domestic furnaces and fireplaces. Anthracite burns longer than wood.
- As anthracite coal does not stain the skin when in contact and produces minute pollution it is used in some varieties of filters instead of other forms of coal. In some cases, it is also used along with charcoal for filtration.
- Being the cleanest burning variety of coal, anthracite has made its way into the hearts of many industries. It is also popular among hand-fired furnaces as it generates less smoke and more heat compared to other types of coal.
- Anthracite coal has earned its nickname “hard coal” due to its application in the locomotive industry. It was used to fuel the trains in South Africa as well as the rest of the world. The variety of coal powers steam-based power generators.
- The reason why anthracite was favoured in the locomotive industry is also behind its reason of utilisation in the internal combustion engines. It is first converted into its fluid state and then used in the internal combustion engines.
- Anthracite coal is also popular among the metal’s smelting and fabrication industries. It is generally used as a reduction agent for myriads of applications like briquetting iron ore pellets, charcoal and many other such uses.
The unique property of anthracite that raises its demand in South Africa as well as the rest of the world is that it generates very little amount of on burning. Neither does it cause much pollution. Also, a small amount of anthracite coal can produce more heat for a longer period of time than many other fuels. Thus, anthracite coal continues to play a major role in the southernmost country of Africa.