peat


peat
peat1
/peet/, n.
1. a highly organic material found in marshy or damp regions, composed of partially decayed vegetable matter: it is cut and dried for use as fuel.
2. such vegetable matter used as fertilizer or fuel.
[1300-50; ME pete (cf. AL peta) < ?]
peat2
/peet/, n. Obs.
a merry young girl; darling (used as a term of endearment).
[1560-70; orig. uncert.]

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Organic fuel consisting of a light, spongy material formed in temperate, humid environments by the accumulation and partial decomposition of vegetable remains under conditions of poor drainage.

Peat deposition is the first step in the formation of coal. Dried peat burns readily, with a smoky flame and a characteristic odour. It is used for domestic heating and can be used to fire boilers. It is only a minor contributor to the world energy supply, but large deposits occur in Canada, China, Indonesia, Russia, Scandinavia, and the U.S. Major users include Finland, Ireland, Russia, and Sweden.

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fuel
 an organic fuel consisting of spongy material formed by the partial decomposition of organic matter, primarily plant material, in wetlands (wetland) such as swamps, muskegs, bogs, fens, and moors. The development of peat is favoured by warm, moist climatic conditions; however, peat can develop even in cold regions such as Siberia, Canada, and Scandinavia. Peat is only a minor contributor to the world energy supply, but large deposits occur in Canada, China, Indonesia, Russia, Scandinavia, and the United States. Major users include Finland, Ireland, Russia, and Sweden.

      The formation of peat is the first step in the formation of coal. With increasing depth of burial and increasing temperature, peat deposits are gradually changed to lignite. With increased time and higher temperatures, these low-rank coals are gradually converted to subbituminous (subbituminous coal) and bituminous coal and under certain conditions to anthracite.

      Peatification is influenced by several factors, including the nature of the plant material deposited, the availability of nutrients to support bacterial life, the availability of oxygen, the acidity of the peat, and temperature. Some wetlands result from high groundwater levels, whereas some elevated bogs are the result of heavy rainfall. Although the rate of plant growth in cold regions is very slow, the rate of decomposition of organic matter is also very slow. Plant material decomposes more rapidly in groundwater rich in nutrients than in elevated bogs with heavy rainfall. The presence of oxygen (aerobic conditions) is necessary for fungal and microbial activity that promotes decomposition, but peat is formed in waterlogged soils with little or no access to oxygen (anaerobic conditions), largely preventing the complete decomposition of organic material. The formation of abundant peat was not possible before land plants developed and spread widely during and after the Devonian Period (beginning approximately 360 million years ago).

      Peats may be divided into several types, including fibric, coarse hemic, hemic, fine hemic, and sapric, based on their macroscopic, microscopic, and chemical characteristics. Peat may be distinguished from lower-ranked coals on the basis of four characteristics: peats generally contain free cellulose, more than 75 percent moisture, and less than 60 percent carbon, and they can be cut with a knife. The transition to brown coal takes place slowly and is usually reached at depths ranging from 100 to 400 m (approximately 330 to 1300 feet).

      Peat is usually hand-cut, although progress has been made in the excavation and spreading of peat by mechanical methods. Peat may be cut by spade in the form of blocks, which are spread out to dry. When dry, the blocks weigh from 0.34 to 0.91 kg (0.75 to 2 pounds). In one mechanized method, a dredger or excavator digs the peat from the drained bog and delivers it to a macerator (a device that softens and separates a material into its component parts through soaking), which extrudes the peat pulp through a rectangular opening. The pulp is cut into blocks, which are spread to dry. Maceration tends to yield more uniform shrinkage and a denser and tougher fuel. Hydraulic excavating can also be used, particularly in bogs that contain roots and tree trunks. The peat is washed down by a high-pressure water jet, and the pulp runs to a sump. There, after slight maceration, it is pumped to a draining ground in a layer, which, after partial drying, is cut up and dried further.

      Dried peat burns readily with a smoky flame and a characteristic odour. The ash is powdery and light, except for varieties that have a high content of inorganic matter. Peat is used for domestic heating purposes and forms a fuel suitable for boiler firing in either briquetted or pulverized form. It also has been used to produce electricity.

Otto C. Kopp
 

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Peat — Peat, n. [Prob. for beat, prop., material used to make the fire burn better, fr. AS. b?tan to better, mend (a fire), b?t advantage. See {Better}, {Boot} advantage.] A substance of vegetable origin, consisting of roots and fibers, moss, etc., in… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • Peat —   Peat consists of partially decomposed plant debris. It is considered an early stage in the development of coal. Peat is distinguished from lignite by the presence of free cellulose and a high moisture content (exceeding 70 percent). The heat… …   Energy terms

  • peat|y — «PEE tee», adjective, peat|i|er, peat|i|est. of, like, or abounding in peat: »A thin seam of peaty matter…along the bottom of a bed of clay (James Croll) …   Useful english dictionary

  • Peat — Peat, n. [Cf. {Pet} a fondling.] A small person; a pet; sometimes used contemptuously. [Obs.] Shak. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • peat|er|y — «PEE tuhr ee», noun, plural er|ies. a place from which peat is dug …   Useful english dictionary

  • peat — [pi:t] n [Date: 1300 1400; : Medieval Latin; Origin: peta, probably from a Celtic language] [U] a black substance formed from decaying plants under the surface of the ground in some areas, which can be burned as a ↑fuel, or mixed with soil to… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • peat — [ pit ] noun uncount a type of soil consisting of decaying plants that can also be used as fuel …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • peat — c.1200, in Scottish L., probably from O.Celt. root *pett (Cf. Cornish peyth, Welsh peth quantity, part, thing, O.Ir. pet, Breton pez piece ). The earliest sense is not of the turf but of the cut piece of it …   Etymology dictionary

  • peat — ► NOUN ▪ partly decomposed vegetable matter forming a deposit on acidic, boggy ground, dried for use in gardening and as fuel. DERIVATIVES peaty adjective. ORIGIN Anglo Latin peta …   English terms dictionary


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