20+ Differences Between Coal And Charcoal

Coal and Charcoal are related terms that sound like synonyms and are used interchangeably, but these substances have several differences. Charcoal is formed from artificial processes, and coal is formed from fossil fuels. 

The formation of Coal took place thousands of years ago when the dead decaying matter got buried and exposed to heat and pressure.

Thus, coal is also known as Fossil Fuel. Charcoal is made from biomass through the process of Pyrolysis. The major difference between Coal and Charcoal is that the former is a fossil fuel while the latter is not. 

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Key Differences –

Coal –

  1. Coal is the most popular fossil fuel, which is largely used in the production of electricity.
  2. Coal was formed millions of years ago from the dead decaying matter of plants and animals.
  3. Coal is a non–renewable source of energy. 
  4. Coal produces more heat than Charcoal. 
  5. There are five types of coal, namely Peat, Lignite, Sub – Bituminous, Bituminous, and Anthracite. 

Charcoal –

  1. Charcoal is largely used as a domestic fuel. 
  2. Charcoal is formed from Biomass by the process of Pyrolysis. 
  3. Charcoal is a renewable source of energy. 
  4. Charcoal produces lesser heat than Coal. 
  5. There are five types of Charcoal, namely Activated Charcoal, BBQ Charcoal, Activated Bamboo Charcoal, Coconut shell Charcoal, and Wood charcoal.

Comparison Between Coal And Charcoal

ParameterCoalCharcoal
Made fromCoal is made from Fossils by natural geological processes. Charcoal is made from biomass by an artificial process known as Pyrolysis. 
Renewable/Non-RenewableCoal is a non–renewable source of energy. Charcoal is a renewable source of energy. 
TypesCoal has 5 types, namely Pete, Lignite, Sub – Bituminous, Bituminous, and Anthracite. Charcoal also has 5 types, namely Activated Charcoal, BBQ Charcoal, Activated Bamboo Charcoal, Coconut shell Charcoal, and Wood charcoal. 
PollutionCoal produces more pollution than Charcoal.Charcoal produces less pollution than Coal.
EnergyCoal produces more energy than Charcoal.Charcoal produces less energy than Coal.

Major Differences Between Coal And Charcoal

In order to understand the differences between Coal and Charcoal, it is important to understand the difference between Renewable and Non – Renewable sources of energy. 

What exactly are Renewable and Non – Renewable Sources of Energy?

Renewable Sources of Energy are those sources that can be used again and again and would not be depleted. Non – Renewable Sources of Energy are those sources of energy that are present only for a limited amount of time and will get depleted shortly.

Examples of Renewable Sources of Energy include Solar Energy, Wind Energy, Tidal Energy, etc. Examples of Non – Renewable Sources of Energy include Coal, Petroleum, Natural gas, etc. 

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Renewable sources of energy –

  1. Renewable sources of energy are those sources that can be used forever for energy generation. 
  2. Examples – Solar Energy, Wind Energy, Tidal Energy, etc.

Non – Renewable sources of energy –

  1. Non – Renewable sources of energy are those sources that will not last forever and are limited. 
  2. Examples – Coal, Petroleum, Natural Gas, etc.

What exactly is coal?

Coal is a fossil fuel that was formed millions of years ago when the dead decaying animal and plant matter was exposed to heat and pressure under the Earth’s crust. It takes millions of years for the formation of coal, and thus, it won’t last forever.

Hence, coal is a non–renewable source of energy. Due to this, we are also shifting to non–renewable sources of energy. Coal is used in the huge production of electricity and energy in Industries. The major drawback of coal is that it produces tons of pollution. 

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Types of Coal –

  1. Peat – Peat is the first stage of coal formation. Pete is formed when the dead decaying plant and animal matter has undergone a little bit of decomposition. 
  2. Lignite – Lignite is referred to as brown coal because it has the lowest amount of Carbon and heat generation capacity. 
  3. Sub – Bituminous: Sub – Bituminous Coal is a type of coal that has a dull black appearance and has a good amount of carbon present in it, 
  4. Bituminous – Bituminous Coal is a type of coal that has carbon content more than Sub – Bituminous but less than that of Anthracite. It has a shiny, soft black appearance. 
  5. Anthracite – Anthracite is the top tier level of coal that has the highest amount of carbon content. It is very hard and has a lustrous black appearance. 

What exactly is Charcoal?

Charcoal is a renewable source of energy that is made from biomass with the help of a process known as Pyrolysis.

Biomass is an organic matter made up of Plants and Animals. In the process of Pyrolysis, the biomass is heated at a very high temperature, around 300 degrees C to 400 degrees C, in the absence of oxygen.

The ash that is left behind is known as Charcoal. It takes very little time the creation of Charcoal as compared to coal. Charcoal is used as a domestic fuel widely. 

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Types of Charcoal –

  1. Activated Charcoal – Activated Charcoal is a powdery form of Charcoal made from a number of things such as pete, petroleum, coconut shells, etc. Heat activates Charcoal.
  2. Wood Charcoal – Wood Charcoal is a form of charcoal that is made by Pyrolysis done specifically on plants. 
  3. Activated Bamboo Charcoal – Activated Bamboo Charcoal is the form of Charcoal where the Pyrolysis is done on the Bamboo plants and heated till the moment charcoal gets activated. 
  4. Coconut Shell Charcoal – Coconut Shell Charcoal is a type of charcoal that is made from Coconut shells. 
  5. BBQ Charcoal – BBQ charcoal is a type of charcoal that is made from sawdust and a higher amount of heat. 

Contrast Between Coal And Charcoal

Meaning

  • Coal – Coal is a widely used fossil fuel in the production of electricity. 
  • Charcoal – Charcoal is a renewable source of energy that is used as a domestic fuel.

Fossil Fuel

  • Coal – Coal is a fossil fuel. 
  • Charcoal – Charcoal is not a fossil fuel. 

Made From

  • Coal – Coal is formed from the dead decaying matter of plants and animals, which were buried deep under the Earth’s crust. 
  • Charcoal – Charcoal is formed from biomass by the process of Pyrolysis. 

Time Taken In Formation

  • Coal – It takes millions of years the formation of coal. 
  • Charcoal – It takes around 10 to 15 years for the formation of Charcoal. 

Renewable/Non–Renewable Source

  • Coal – Coal is a non–renewable source of energy, meaning it is finite and will get finished one day. 
  • Charcoal – Charcoal is a renewable source of energy. 

Process Of Formation

  • Coal – Coal is formed by a natural geological process. 
  • Charcoal – Charcoal is formed by an artificial process. 

Types

  • Coal – There are five types of Charcoal. 
  • Charcoal – There are five types of Charcoal. 

Pollution

  • Coal – Coal produces more pollution than Charcoal. 
  • Charcoal – Charcoal produces less pollution than coal. 

Energy Production

  • Coal – Coal produces more energy than Charcoal. 
  • Charcoal – Charcoal produces less energy than coal. 

Usage

  • Coal – Due to high energy production, coal is used as fuel in Industries. 
  • Charcoal – Due to low energy production in comparison to Coal, Charcoal is used as fuel in domestic work. 

Conclusion

Coal and Charcoal are two widely used fuels in energy production. Due to their synonyms, these terms are used interchangeably. Coal is a fossil fuel meaning it was formed when the dead decaying plant and animal matter got exposed to heat and pressure under the Earth’s crust.

It takes millions of years to form coal, and by continuous use, coal will be finished one day. Thus, it is known as a Non-renewable Source of Energy.

On the other hand, charcoal is made from biomass by a process known as Pyrolysis. Charcoal is a Renewable Source of Energy as it takes only a few years the production of Charcoal. Coal produces more energy and pollution than Charcoal does. 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. How is Coal a Fossil Fuel, but Charcoal is not?

When the dead decaying plant and animal matter got buried in the land and got exposed to immense heat and pressure, coal was formed.
Thus, it is known as Fossil Fuel as it is derived from Fossils.

On the other hand, charcoal is made from Biomass (Plant and Animal matter) through an artificial process known as Pyrolysis. Hence, it is not a Fossil Fuel. 

Q2. What is the major difference between Coal and Charcoal?

The major difference between Coal and Charcoal is that coal is a fossil fuel, whereas Charcoal is not. Coal is made from natural geological processes, whereas charcoal is made from an artificial process. 

Q3. Coal is of how many types?

There are five types of coal, namely Pete, Lignite, Sub – Bituminous, Bituminous, and Anthracite. 


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