Thursday, April 11, 2024

Coal Is Renewable


Coal—A Renewable Resource?

Bodie Hodge, M.Sc., B.Sc., PEI

Biblical Authority Ministries, April 11, 2024


Does it take millions of years to form coal? This is what I was led to believe throughout my years of schooling. It was commonly preached that coal is a nonrenewable resource. For example, the Live Science writes:

“Over millions of years, new mountains rise. During these millennia, the peat breaks down and is gradually transformed to coal thanks to two elements: pressure and heat. Most coals are between 60 million and 300 million years old.”[1]

When starting with the Bible’s timeline, coal is a product largely from the Flood of Noah’s day with the heat and pressures acting on wood and vegetation when burying it as peat seams between rock layers. The key is heat and pressure with an acidic environments to help speed the conversion like a catalyst.

With the Springs of the Great Deep bursting forth (Genesis 7:11[2]) and the volcanism, continental shifting, and mountain building that was occurring, the heat and pressures are easily within that range. Catastrophes have also been observed to produce the coal-like sediment patterns we find in the rock layers too.

For example, when the Mt. St. Helens volcano violently erupted, the forest and the adjacent lake rapidly formed coal like patterns in the sediment. G. Parker and M. Parker write:

“In just minutes and months, Mount St. Helens and Spirit Lake produced a coal-like sediment pattern once thought to take millions of years to form.”[3]

When it comes to actual coal formation, researchers have shown it doesn’t require long ages to make. Scientifically, coal can be made quickly in a couple of different ways.

·        Coal has been produced by taking wood and vibrating it through quick burst of various pressures.[4]

·        Coal has also been rapidly produced by taking wood and using a rapid and intense heat technique.[5]

A third, and more studied, method of making coal was by using lignin (lignin is the primary component in wood), water, and acidic clay (to speed up the quality and process) with heat ranging from 150-400° C. This produces various ranks of coal in as early as two weeks! Higher quality coal would take a little longer. Mackay and Snelling write:  

“In their study, Hayatsu and his colleagues at the Argonne National Laboratory, Illinois, USA made simple coals by heating lignin to about 150°C in the presence of montmorillonite or illite clays. Running that procedure for periods ranging from two weeks to nearly a year, they discovered that longer heating times produced higher rank coals, and found that the clays appear to serve as catalysts that speed the coalification reaction, since the lignin is fairly unreactive in their absence.”[6]

The original journal article states in technical language in the abstract:

“It was found that lignin heated with clay minerals at 150°C for 2–8 months in the absence of oxygen was readily transformed into an insoluble material resembling low rank coals. The H/C and O/C ratios were in the natural evolutionary range found for vitrinites with the samples from longer reaction times resembling the vitrinites of higher rank…. The present study suggests that coal macerals could have been produced directly from the biological source material via catalytic thermal reactions.”[7]

Techie language aside, the point is that coal can be made quickly and the temperatures are well within the range of temperatures and pressures expected from the Flood of Noah to produce coal in various locations.

Coal could be produced and manufactured if there was ever an industrial demand. Nevertheless, coal should be considered renewable.


[2] In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. Genesis 7:11, NKJV

[3] G. Parker and M. Parker, The Fossil Book, Master Books, Green Forest, AR, 2006, p. 15.

[4] Karlweil J., Kolloquim chemi und physik dar systinkhole, Erdol und Kohle-Erdgas, Petrochemie, Volume 18 Number 7, 1965, p. 565.

[5] Hill, G., Some Aspects of Coal Research, Chemical Technology, May, 1972, pp. 292–297.

[6] A. Snelling and J. Mackay, Coal, Volcanism and Noah’s Flood, Technical Journal (now called Journal of Creation), Volume 1, Number 1, April, 1984 pp. 11-29.


[7] R. Hayatsu, R. McBeth, R. Scott, R. Botto, and R. Winans, Artificial coalification study: Preparation and characterization of synthetic macerals, Organic Geochemistry, Volume 6, 1984, pp. 463-471.

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