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Coal was the first ever hydrocarbon in human history to be used on an industrial scale. Coal, and especially peat, has been used for centuries for rudimentary household cooking and heating, in the form of open-hearth fires. As the power of steam was discovered and harnessed to mechanise every type of production activity from agriculture, to mining, to metallurgy, to manufacturing, to lighting and transportation, coal was the fuel that powered the Industrial Revolution from the early eighteenth to the early twentieth century, until it eventually took second place to oil.
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