Graphite, made up purely of carbon atoms, may be considered the final stage of the carbonization process. Graphite conducts electricity well, and is commonly used in lithium ion batteries, seen in an up-close view here.

Photograph by Mark Thiessen

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coal Encyclopedic Entry

Best For
8 - 12 and up

Cross-Disciplinary, Science, Geography, Social Studies, Informal Education

Appropriate For

  • Educators
  • Students

Coal is a non-renewable fossil fuel that is combusted and used to generate electricity. Mining techniques and combustion are both dangerous to miners and hazardous to the environment; however, coal accounts for about half of the electricity generation in the United States.