Clean Coal Technologies
Of all the fossil fuels, coal is the dirtiest. This is because when it is burnt, it produces emissions which:
- Contribute to global warming
- Create acid rain
- Pollute water
Taking into consideration all the talk surrounding biofuels, hydropower and nuclear energy, one would be forgiven for assuming that coal is finally on the way out. However, this is far from been the case. Coal is and still remains the largest energy contributor on the planet. Precisely for this reason, clean coal technology was developed.
This is a set of technologies developed for the purposes of mitigating the impact of coal energy generation to the environment. Whenever coal is used as fuel source, gaseous emissions which are generated by thermal decomposition of the coal include nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and other kinds of chemical byproducts.
Note that this varies in accordance to the type of coal that is been used. It has been established that these emissions impact the environment negatively. Clean coal technologies developed however reduce or remove some of the pollutants from the atmosphere. Some of the technologies used to accomplish this end include:
- Chemically washing the impurities and minerals from the coal
- Treatment of the flue with gases that have steam in order to remove sulfur dioxide
- Carbon capture and storage technologies
- Dewatering lower coal ranks in order to improve their calorific value
In essence, clean coal technology addresses atmospheric problems that are as a result of coal burning. Historically, the major focus was on the sulfur dioxide and particulates as it caused acid rain. However, recent focus on carbon dioxide has proven that it contributes largely to global warming and so do other pollutants.
As such, efforts are made in clean coal technology to ensure all these concerns are viably addressed. There is concern over the economic viability of the technologies used in clean coal generation as well as the timeframe of delivery. These concerns include high economic hidden costs in regard to environmental and social damage, viability and cost of disposing the carbon dioxide and other toxic matter that is removed from the environment.
Coal is primarily used for electricity generation and it is also the second largest contributor of carbon dioxide emission in the United States of America. The public has expressed concern about global warming leading to new legislation about coal burning.
It is because of this fact that the coal industries has responded by introducing new and clean coal technology in a effort to counter negative feedback and perception about coal as a source of energy. The very first ‘clean coal’ power plant went online in September 2008 in Spremberg, Germany.
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