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Anthracite – this type of coal has the highest percentage of fixed carbon and a lower percentage of volatile material than all other coals, making it harder to ignite. However, when it is ignited, it burns relatively smokeless.  Anthracite coal is the most difficult to mine, since it is so hard.  In addition, there are not many accessible veins of anthracite coal. The most well-known anthracite mines in the United States are in western Pennsylvania.  While the use of anthracite as a fuel for heating has declined over the years, its high carbon and low sulfur content have increased its use for chemical and metallurgical purposes.
Bituminous – Bituminous coal is the most abundant and most widely used coal. This is the type of coal found in the Appalachian region. It has a higher heating potential and is used for making coke. It has a higher percentage of fixed carbon, greater heat value and better weathering characteristics than lignite and sub-lignite coals. According to geological estimates, seven feet or more of compacted plant life was required to form one foot of bituminous coal. All of the grades of coking coal that are used for metallurgical purposes fall within the bituminous classification. Most of the non-metallurgical grades of bituminous coal are burned in boilers or furnaces to obtain thermal energy for generating electricity. Because bituminous coal is softer than anthracite, it is often referred to as soft coal.  It does emit smoke as it burns, unlike anthracite. However, there is a region in Southern West Virginia where the bituminous coal burns relatively smokeless. The Smokeless Coal Fields of Southern West Virginia are unique in the world.
Sub-bituminous – A lesser grade of coal, it has more moisture and less carbon than bituminous.




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