Clean Coal Technology

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Clean coal technology is a term used to describe technologies being developed that aim to reduce the environmental impact of coal energy generation. It implies that it is possible to make coal a fuel source that is free of (or very low in) carbon dioxide emissions and other pollutant emissions. Some of the techniques that would be used to accomplish this include chemically washing minerals and impurities from the coal, gasification (see also IGCC), treating the flue gases with steam to remove sulfur dioxide, carbon capture and storage technologies to capture the carbon dioxide from the flue gas and dewatering lower rank coals (brown coals) to improve the calorific value, and thus the efficiency of the conversion intoelectricity. Clean coal technology usually addresses atmospheric problems resulting from burning coal. Historically, the primary focus was on sulfur dioxide and particulates, since it is the most important gas in the causation of acid rain. More recent focus has been on carbon dioxide (due to its impact on global warming) as well as other pollutants. Concerns exist regarding the economic viability of these technologies and the timeframe of delivery,potentially high hidden economic costs in terms of social and environmental damage, and the costs and viability of disposing of removed carbon and other toxic matter. Coal, which is primarily used for the generation of electricity, is the second largest domestic contributor to carbon dioxide emissions in the USA. The public has become more concerned about global warming which has led to new legislation. The coal industry has responded by running advertising touting clean coal in an effort to counter negative perceptions and claiming more than $50 billion towards the development and deployment of "traditional" clean coal technologies over the past 30 years; and promising $500 million towards carbon capture and storage research and development. The world's first "clean coal" power plant went on-line in...
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