Cleaner coal?

Because the United States has large coal deposits, use of coal as a fuel for generating electricity has become widespread.  However, burning coal produces several waste products which are harmful to the environment, as well as large amounts of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide.  However, the energy in coal can be liberated in other ways, including coal gasification.  By heating coal in an environment where there is little oxygen present, it is possible to produce a gas which can be used as a fuel, but with less  toxic waste products being emitted into the air when the gas is burned.

Although the gasification process requires energy to work, proper gasification offers the possibility of a fuel which is cleaner than coal, and which can be burned immediately or stored for future use.  By burning some coal to produce the energy for the gasification, some existing coal generating plants can be used, especially ones in remote areas.  Or, coal could gasified during off-peak load periods, and burned as fuel when demand is high.

We are going to have to accept that energy costs are going to rise, irregardless of the fuel source.  Environmental concerns are beginning to outweigh economic gain for many people, and the resistance to burning large amounts of coal to produce energy is likely to rise.  By gasification, our coal resources could still be useful to us, while minimizing the environmental damage involved in using coal as a fuel.

The technology of coal gasification advanced significantly during the 1800’s, but the advent of natural gas and gasoline reduced the demand for synthetic gas to the point where the process of coal gasification was abandoned.  Applying modern technology and knowledge to the process would undoubtedly result in improvements, such as increasing the amount of energy contained in the synthetic gas, or reducing the waste products produced by the process.

Natural gas extraction has entered a new era, one which many people view with alarm, because the methods used threaten water supplies, and possibly could result in subsidence, land slips, or other deformation of the ground.  Without this new process, the United States is going to have to import large quantities of natural gas to keep up with demand.  Or, we might consider coal gasification as a way of meeting our demand for gas as a fuel.

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One Response to “Cleaner coal?”

  1. Adam Says:

    Hello, I myself have a blog about this topic and I really enjoyed this article, thanks alot

    Like

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