Sunday, February 4, 2007

The Temporary Solution: Coal

Via CNN: Coal, the clean energy of the future?

Coal contains anywhere from 25 to 90 percent carbon, which combines with oxygen when burned to release energy. This process emits a host of noxious chemicals, such as carbon dioxide, sulfur, nitrogen oxide and mercury. Yet carbon in coal can also be used to strip oxygen from water, producing clean-burning hydrogen gas. FutureGen will liberate hydrogen by heating finely ground coal in a high-pressure, pure-oxygen environment, a process known as gasification and a
turbine will burn the resulting hydrogen gas to produce electricity. As for emissions, the plant will pump the CO2 underground while the other pollutants are converted to an inert solid and buried.

Experts agree that the whole notion of trapping carbon is less a long-term solution and more a good stopgap. "Carbon sequestration you can do for 50 or 100 years," Friedmann says. "You do it until you have other options besides burning coal -- which we kind of don't right now."

Energy Department Teams With Consortium to Build Model 'Clean-Coal' Plant

(Courtesy BBC)
Clean coal energy is currently the best energy alternative. As discussed previously, ethanol is less efficient than it appears. There’s nothing wrong at all with nuclear power, but much of the public opposes it because of the “danger.” Nuclear power would be and actually is the best alternative energy, but too much of the population believes it has “safety concerns”. Gasoline, obviously, doesn’t work efficiently. Right now, coal is the best energy alternative.

How clean coal works is explained in the article. If you actually read to end, you can see “Experts agree that the whole notion of trapping carbon is less a long-term solution and more a good stopgap.” Right now, humanity needs a stopgap. An experimental fusion reactor is being built. If workable, it could be the new commonly used energy. As ethanol machinery progresses, more machines will be built that use wood chips, tires and other waste instead of corn to produce ethanol. Make no mistake: coal is a temporary solution.

More Alternative Energy Series:

Why Corn Ethanol is Bad
The Temporary Solution: Coal
Nuclear Power: Energy of the Future or As Bad As Fossil Fuels
5 Reasons Solar Power Works
The Wind Power and Solar Power Combination
Another Look at Nuclear Power - Nuclear Waste
What's So Special About Hydropower and Hydroelectricity?
Top 5 Advantages of Geothermal Power