What is peat?

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caledon | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Peat is an important and ancient form of fuel, particularly in Ireland, Scotland and the UK. It is composed of partially decayed plant matter, particularly moss and grass, that has accumulated in a low-oxygen wetland environment, which discourages microorganisms and many forms of vertebrate life from consuming it. This has the side effect of making peat an exceptionally good preservational environment, leading to the discovery of human and animal corpses hundreds of years old with skin and organs intact, which tell archaeologists about the ancient inhabitants of these regions. Peat is normally dried and used for domestic cooking or other low-tech applications. Coal is the final fossil-fuel form of plant matter; peat can be thought of as the first step in the process of coal generation.

One of the problems with peat usage is renewability; while peat is, in principle, a renewable fuel, it is harvested much more quickly than it is renewed through natural processes. This is especially problematic when considering the link between peat and wetland environments. The environmental impact of peat harvesting is especially visible because peat exists on the surface of the earth, rather than beneath it as with other fossil fuels.

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adarshanurag | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Wood - Peat - Lignite - Bituminous - Anthracite

Peat is the first transformation stage of wood into coal. It has low carbon content and leaves a great amount of ash and residue. It has very low heating value and is found in association with sediments and moisture. Peat under heat and pressure transforms into coal. Coal is a fossil fuel. It occurs as sedimentary rock and consist mainly of carbon and few amount of nitrogen, sulphur and moisture. Peat  is used as domestic for cooking food. Anthracite is the best kind of coal. 

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zumba96 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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It is usually a boggy material that includes decomposed vegetable matter and is widely used for fuel and gardening purposes. 

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nicole8923 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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Peat is a brown, soil-like material characteristic of boggy, acid ground, consisting of partly decomposed vegetable matter. It is widely cut and dried for use in gardening and as fuel.

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laurto | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation. Mires, particularly bogs, are the most important source of peat, but other less common wetland types also deposit peat, including fens, pocosins, and peat swamp forests. Peat is soft and easily compressed. Under pressure, water in the peat is forced out. Upon drying, peat can be used asfuel. It has industrial importance as a fuel in some countries, such as Ireland and Finland, where it is harvested on an industrial scale. In many countries, including Ireland and Scotland, where trees are often scarce, peat is traditionally used for cooking and domestic heating.

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