What is coal used for?

Coal is primarily used as fuel to generate electric power in the United States. The coal is burned and the heat given off is used to convert water into steam, which drives a turbine. In 2012, about 39 percent of all electricity in the United States was generated by coal-fired power plants, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Certain types of coal can also be used for metallurgical processes, like forging steel, smelting metals, or even in smelting sands, which are used to cast metal. Finally, coal can be burned to provide heat for individual homes. More information on how coal forms, and uses of coal, can be found in the USGS report, Coal – A Complex Natural Resource.