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What Is White Coal?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 17, 2024
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Coal is commonly thought of as the dark black rock-like substance that fills the sky with smoke when burned. White coal, also called bio coal, is completely different; for starters, it is better for the environment because no toxic residue results from creating or using white coal. White coal is made by taking trees, plants and agricultural waste such almond shells and drying the plant material. It is used in many applications by many industries and is easily renewable. Aside from being cleaner than regular coal, bio coal also yields more energy and has lower moisture.

To create white coal, all that is needed is plant material and a fire over which to dry the material. The most common materials used to make bio coal are leaves, trees, almond and groundnut shells, and cotton stalks. Industries normally do this in large drying mechanisms that yield a large amount of bio coal. Unlike regular coal, which requires binders and other substances to make the coal usable as an energy source, bio coal does not require any additional substances.

After being dried, the material used to create bio coal is formed into a cylindrical shape, the standard for bio coal production. The formation is not assisted by any chemicals. It is made using powerful mechanical presses.

The uses for white coal are as varied as black coal uses. It is used in homes for heat and cooking, and by many industries that need or produce energy. Anywhere coal is used, bio coal can be substituted. White coal comes from plant waste and material, meaning it is a renewable resource.

Sulfur content is a large problem with regular coal. Bio coal produces no sulfur and, therefore, no pollution when used. Sulfur can also make black coal difficult to store or be around, but white coal does not have this problem.

Another consideration from an air pollution standpoint is the ash created when burning a substance. The ash level in bio coal is usually in a range of 2 percent to 10 percent. This percentage is very low, especially when compared to traditional coal's range of 20 percent to 40 percent ash content when burned.

The energy produced by any substance is measured in kilocalories (kcal). Bio coal is able to produce around 3,800 kcal to 4,500 kcal when used. Black coal typically produces from 3,000 kcal to 3,500 kcal. Combustion also is more uniform in bio coal than in regular coal, making it ideal for applications where the heat has to cover a wide area.

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Discussion Comments
By Jacques6 — On Jul 21, 2011

@amsden2000 - We might not have room to switch exclusively to white coal, but maybe we could combine it with solar and water energy sources to add up to everything else. You are very right about businesses -- if they can't make even more money than they do, they aren't going to change.

White coal is a greener alternative to black coal, but it's still not 100% clean -- no power source is. Doing less damage is of course better, but solar and water energy sources are even cleaner than white coal. We should try to focus on them first, than white coal.

By amsden2000 — On Jul 21, 2011

@zeak4hands - The biggest problem that is arising from green and renewable energy sources are two things. One, if the producers can't make more money than they make off of coal energy -- they aren't going to switch.

Two, we just don't have enough space to produce food and green energy sources. The production end of growing and processing all of that biomass is going to be extensive -- not to mention, it will cut into our food growing space.

There just isn't enough room for both right now. So that's what I think we should work on first -- making space.

By zeak4hands — On Jul 20, 2011

White coal should be called white gold. It burns like regular coal but it's a green solution to coal power, in my opinion. Since white coal is made out of biomass -- as in, plants -- it is not a limited resource. It is possible to grow new plants for white coal production.

Black coal is going to run out someday -- and our whole society is based on the power it produces. 50% of America's power comes from black coal. We should be try to make as much white coal as possible and not burned through the last of our coal. White coal is cheap and it is far less harmful to the environment -- what are we waiting for?

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