A Boon For the Environment- Clean Burning Coal

While not a renewable resource clean burning coal is a blanket term that covers all of the scientific efforts to create a cleaner burning and overall more efficient fuel using common coal as the base ingredient. Through a variety of laboratory processes, the coal is stripped of impurities that would lead to the production of carbon dioxide and a variety of harmful products that would enter the air upon burning. Tackling the problem of burning coal is important for the future of the global environment, as coal burning is suspected to be a primary culprit in climate change.

The production of clean burning coal is largely composed of chemically washing the raw coal in order to remove impurities within its structure to yield a product that will expel less waste into the environment. Another method that scientists employ to create a cleaner burning fuel from coal is gasification, which is the process of reacting a raw fuel, such as coal, with controlled concentrations of oxygen and steam at very high temperatures. This produces a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen known as synthesis gas, which can be burned directly in internal combustion engines or used to produce synthetic fuels. The combustion of synthesis gas actually yields more energy than the combustion of its base products, and also acts as an effective method of purifying fuel, as the synthesis gas will not contain minerals or other impurities in large quantities. Another method refers to treating the gaseous products of coal combustion with steam which will help to remove sulfur dioxide from the waste before allowing it to enter the environment.

Clean burning coal is such an attractive prospect at the moment because coal currently stands as the second largest contributor to carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, and because it is currently not a viable solution to immediately halt the use of coal in the production of power throughout the United States, the impact of coal emissions can be softened if steps are taken to purify coal or to convert the substance into a more efficient form of energy, such as synthesis gas. Spremberg, Germany has shown the world that clean burning coal is a viable option for the production of power by opening the world’s first clean burning coal plant in 2008, and other countries, including the United States, are expected to follow suit.