Coal-Fired Efficiency (Tony Kovscek)
What's the future for fossil fuels? Explore Prof. Kovscek's perspective on coal's role and more.
Transcript: Coal-Fired Efficiency
I think probably one of the most promising parts of clean coal technology is that you would take the coal, and actually take the chemical components in it, in a relatively simple reaction and make them into gases. Then once you have a gas we know a lot of ways to actually make combustion of gases very clean, very efficient. Because once you have gas it's very easy to remove a lot of the impurities that you don't want. That's one of the problems with coal is that when you burn it you create a lot of contaminants that you don't wanna create. So one of the advantages of clean coal technology is you could take it, you could gasify the coal, basically you would make methane-natural gas- and hydrogen. And if you wanted to you could take the methane that you produce and make it all into hydrogen and then you would have basically a hydrogen stream and then a waste stream of a number of different things. One of them might be co2. And then you have a way of burning these combustion gasses at higher efficiencies than we currently do. Currently most coal fired power plants are about 33% efficient, so that's of the coal energy you put in. Only 33% of it actually leaves the power plant as electricity; whereas, with the clean coal technology with the coal gasification, the hope is that someday it will surpass 50% efficiency, although at the moment it's in the high 40s.