Chemical Properties of Coal (CO-03)
Coal is a complex mixture of chemical compounds, mostly organic, that results when accumulations of partly decayed plants are subjected to pressure for millions of years. Hoosier coal seams began as vast swamps in which many kinds of plant material accumulated about 300 million years ago. Great thicknesses of these materials were slowly buried under hundreds of feet of sediments. Eventually, physical and chemical changes produced bituminous coal from the plant material.

Separate chemical compounds can be isolated from a single lump of coal, but most are combinations of the elements carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur. Because coal is combustible, it has great potential as a source of energy. The chemical compounds in Hoosier coals can be used to produce virtually every organic compound in the laboratory, including such diverse substances as aspirin, rubber, gasoline, and plastics. Perhaps someday Hoosier coals will also serves as a major industrial raw material.

Our Hoosier State Beneath Us: Coal

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