What makes anthracite a superior carbon?


Anthracite is a value-added product in the industrial supply chain and is not used for power generation or primarily as a fuel source.

Anthracite or ‘hard coal’ is a high-quality coal mined in relatively few areas in the world. Northeast Pennsylvania is the only region of anthracite production in North America and contains the world’s highest quality anthracite reserves. Anthracite is also be found in Siberia as well as small amounts in South Wales, China, Ukraine, North Korea, Vietnam and Australia. The anthracite region of Pennsylvania is an excellent example of intense folding of sedimentary rocks, which combined with higher-than-normal temperatures to convert bituminous coal to anthracite. Anthracite represents coal at its most metamorphosed, and accounts for just 1% of all coal reserves in the world.

Anthracite is the cleanest solid fossil fuel available – it is clean and smooth to touch, leaving no soot residue, and produces no smoke when combusted. Anthracite has the highest carbon content of any coal (86-92%) and very low sulfur levels making it a highly sought-after carbon source in the steel and ferrous metals industry. It is very dense, much harder than ordinary bituminous coal, and has a semi-metallic sheen to it. Anthracite is also an extremely efficient energy source, with low moisture levels and a high calorific value.

Iron and Steel Manufacture

The main markets for Pennsylvania anthracite are in iron and steel manufacture where anthracite is primarily used as a reducing agent. Its main applications are:

  • In Basic Oxygen Steelmaking (BOF),
    replacing small amounts of met coke with anthracite as a reducing agent.
  • In Electric Arc Furnaces, anthracite is sought after due to its low cost per lb. of fixed carbon, and the low sulfur content, and is again used as a reducing agent as well as charge ingredient, added to the furnace with the charged material.
  • In Pulverised Coal Injection, anthracite is the most popular choice of injection carbon due to its low sulfur content.

Other Uses

  • Large -scale water purification and filtration
  • Process carbon in the manufacture of bricks, wire, silicon and glass
  • Pennsylvania anthracite, due to its high heat value being virtually smokeless, still has a significant market as a home and commercial heating fuel in northeast USA and Europe.