Coal as ‘Clean’ as Natural Gas?

A renaissance for King Coal?

A Japanese company claims to have developed a new coal-burning technology that boosts coal’s energy efficiency by 30 percent while reducing its carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 40 percent. Unlike conventional plants, which burn coal at around 700 degrees Celsius, the Osaka Coolgen plant roasts coal at more than 1,300 degrees Celsius while simultaneously blowing oxygen over it to convert the solid fuel into a gas. The plant also uses exhaust heat to generate power, and it extracts hydrogen from the gas to use in fuel cells to create electricity.

Using conventional technologies, burning enough bituminous coal to produce 1 million british thermal units (BTUs) emits 205 pounds of carbon dioxide. If the new technology reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent, that would cut emissions to roughly 123 pounds. Getting the same energy yield from natural gas emits 117 pounds of carbon dioxide.

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