Types and Conservation Methods of Coal and Petroleum

Types and Conservation Methods of Coal and Petroleum

In today’s world, we use a variety of materials to meet our basic energy needs. Few of them occur; naturally, others are artificial (man-made). Since air, water, soil, and minerals are found in Mother Nature, they are called natural resources. 

Let us learn about Coal and Petroleum Uses and their types and how to conserve this natural resource.

Taking into account the availability of biodiversity, natural resources can be generally divided into two types, namely in-exhaustible (renewable) natural resources and exhaustible (non-renewable) natural resources.

Non-combustible Natural Resources: These resources are available in infinite quantities in nature and are almost indestructible due to human activities.

Examples: sunlight, wind.

Non-renewable Natural Resources: The amount of these resources in mother nature is limited. They can be consumed fully by human activities.

Examples: wood, hydrocarbons, minerals, natural gas etc.

We will study exhaustible or non-renewable energy resources like coal, petroleum and natural gas. Therefore, all of these are known as fossil fuels. These are also known as fossils.


Coal is one of the raw materials used to cook food. Earlier, coal was used in train engines to produce steam to run the engine. Coal (Bituminous coal) is mainly used in thermal plants to generate electricity. It is also used as fuel in various industries for boilers as steam generators or heating purposes.

Nearly 300 million years ago, the earth was covered with dense forests and lowlands; due to natural disasters such as floods, these forests are buried underground. As much soil fell on them, they were crushed. 

Under high pressure and high temperatures, dead plants gradually turned into charcoal. The temperature also rises as they sink deeper and deeper. Since coal contains mostly carbon, the slow change method from dead plants to coal is known as carbonization. Coal is also known as fossil fuel.

Coal is one of the forms of Carbon. When coal is ignited, it gives heat energy and also produces Carbon dioxide gas. Coal is processed to obtain useful products such as coke, coal tar and coal gas. 

  • Coke: It is a dark substance, very strong and hollow. It is the purest form of carbon. Coke is used in making metal and in making other materials. 
  • Coal Tar: It is a dense liquid with a foul smell. It is a combination of more than 200 substances. Coal tar products like perfumes, dyes, moths repellents, i.e. naphthalene balls, paints, explosives, plastics, pharmaceutical products etc., can be manufactured.
  • Coal Gas: It is produced during coke extraction. It is used as fuel for industries.

Coal Formation Steps 

Plant Materials àPeat à Lignite à Subbituminous à Bituminous à Anthracite

Coal Types 

Mainly there are four types of coal-based on the carbon content present in them.

  1. Anthracite: It is known as the best coal quality; it contains 86 to 92 % of dry carbon content. It is glossy black coal, solid and fragile, commonly referred to as solid coal; it has a more constant carbon per cent, and volatile substances are low per cent.
  2. Bituminous: It is medium quality coal from sub-bituminous to anthracite. It contains 76 to 86 % of dry carbon content. Bituminous coal has more per cent (Btu) and is used to produce electricity. It looks shiny Coal, blocky and smooth at first look; however, deeply dull layers, thin shine nature can be noticed. 
  3. Sub-Bituminous: It is dark coloured and looks duller or not shiny. It contains 70 to 76 % of dry carbon content. Sub-bituminous coal produces medium temperatures and is mainly used to generate power.
  4. Lignite: Lignite coal, also named brown coal, is the lowest grade coal with a low carbon content of 65 to 70 % of dry carbon content. Lignite coal produces very low temperatures and more humidity. It is also used to generate power.


We are commonly heard of petrol, diesel and kerosene. These are mainly used to run vehicles, generate electricity and do other activities. These are also named petroleum products. 

The term petroleum is taken from PETRA (also known as a rock) and OLEUM (also known as oil) excavated from the rocks. 

Petroleum Production

When the animals and plants died, their bodies sank to the bottom of the sea and were covered by clay and mud or sand. For thousands of years, without air, with high temperatures, very high pressure makes changes in dead organisms into fuel& natural gas. 

Refining Petroleum 

Petroleum is a liquid in nature, it is dark oil. It smells bad. It combines various materials like petrol, diesel, kerosene, tar, lubricating oil, petroleum gas, etc. The process of separating the various materials as mentioned above / materials of petroleum is known as refining. 

The various components of petroleum and their use are given in Table

Sl. No.Constituents of HydrocarbonsUses
1LPG     (Liquefied petroleum gas)Domestic and industrial fuel
2PetrolAutomotive gasoline, jet fuel, dry cleaning solvent
3Kerosene Paraffin fuel stoves, lamps and jet planes
4Diesel Diesel Fuel for heavy vehicles, electric generators
5Lubricating oil Oil Greasing
6Paraffin wax Paraffin wax Oil, candles etc.
7Bitumen Paint, road surface

Natural Gas

This gas can be compressed and stored. Its transportation is easier via pipes; since it has high calorific value, it’s free from pollution, it’s also used as raw material for many chemical synthesis and fertilizers. 


At the initial phase of this topic, we have understood that some non-renewable natural resources are depleting, such as fossil fuels, forests, minerals, etc. We have to know that coal and hydrocarbons are mineral fuels. 

Their use is related to global warming. Furthermore, the combustion of these fuels is a major cause of air pollution.

  • We, therefore, need to use these oils only when necessary. This will lead to a better environment, less risk of global warming and a longer presence.
  • Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) in India advises people to save fuel/diesel while driving.
  • Turn off the engine at traffic lights or at the waiting point, 
  • Maintenance or servicing of the vehicle periodically is necessary and ensure proper tire pressure.
  • Use renewable energies such as solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy and other sources. 


In this article, know about coal, petroleum and natural gas types, extraction, uses. However, the human population is growing rapidly nowadays, and energy requirements are also growing rapidly, we should be aware that it took millions of years for dead creatures to turn it into hydrocarbons. 

On the other hand, it only lasts a few hundred years to consume it. Hence, consciously we have to consume non-renewable energies and focus mainly on renewable energy sources, also called green energy.

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