Reason's Ronald Bailey wonders about a future in which power companies can burn coal as cleanly as they burn natural gas.  Japanese technology squeezes more power out of coal.
For conventional coal-fired power generation, heat from coal burned at a temperature of around 700 C produces steam, which rotates a turbine.

CoolGen's plant is totally different as it roasts coal at above 1,300 C while simultaneously blowing oxygen over it in order to convert the solid fuel into a gas. The system can drastically cut the discharge of CO2 because it uses gas from the roasted coal to generate power instead of burning the rock.
That sounds like an improvement on the old town gas technology that produced gas for lighting and cooking by roasting coal in a retort house.

It's easier to get natural gas out of the ground these days, and yet, the wasted heat in a ton of coal is an opportunity, meaning inventiveness pays off.
The plant also makes use of exhaust heat, generated when power is produced, for power generation. In addition, it has a fuel cell power generation facility that extracts hydrogen from some of the gas and forces a reaction with oxygen to create electricity.

Using three energy sources -- gas, exhaust heat and hydrogen -- the plant can maximize some 55% of coal's energy for power generation, compared with up to 40% for conventional coal-fired power generation stations.
There are still unrealized gains, although the next increment might involve greater capital expense, and tweaks to the machinery that still haven't occurred to people.

Retrieved from Nikkei Asian Review.

Mr Bailey notes that this technology might help developing countries make use of their coal reserves whilst meeting their commitments under the Paris climate agreements.

No comments: