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What If Energy From Un-Mined Coal Could Be Tapped While Reducing the CO2 75%?

Their global disinformation campaigns designed to keep world populations ignorant about the danger of climate change have not endeared the fossil industry to the rest of us. The refusal to deal with the facts about the danger to humanity that global warming poses makes it easy to also dismiss their lies about “clean coal”.


Nevertheless, there is increasing evidence that recent serious attempts at research and development into trying to make coal clean should be taken seriously, and not disregarded as simply more lies to be automatically dismissed.

If energy could be extracted from coal without mining it while reducing its carbon dioxide emissions 75%, then that is R&D worth following, along with all the new developments in clean renewable energy.

Research from a new study from the Clean Air Task Force has led to a project just begun this summer in the Alberta oil sands by Swan Hills Synfuels to try just that.

The idea is to try and suck a gas directly from an un-mined coal field instead of mining it. This might eliminate the toxicity health and environmental problems caused by mining coal, whether by traditional means or even worse; by mountaintop removal.

Then, before using the gas to fire the plant, they separate out the carbon dioxide for sequestration or other industrial use. In this test, they will sell it for oil recovery. If it works with fewer environmental problems this greatly reduces both of the two main problems of coal.

The $1.5 billion 300 MW Swan Hills project would separate out and sell over 1.3 million tons of carbon dioxide per year to oil producers and ultimately be stored in oil wells, capturing and storing 10 to 20 million tons by 2020. The government of the province of Alberta will invest $271 million try to generate power from coal–without digging it up.

Oxygen is pushed down pipes deep into the coal seam, creating great pressure of 2000 PSI, and heat of 900 degrees C and causing the oxygen, coal, and saline water to react and form a gas which is one-third methane and two-thirds hydrogen, along with some carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.

This gas is the product of the mining operation, not coal. The  mix is pulled up to the surface and separated into hydrogen/methane and CO₂, and the CO₂ is removed for sequestration in an oil field.  The hydrogen methane mix is used to power a combined-cycle natural-gas plant, using a turbine that has been slightly modified to run off this gas.

This is one of a variety of tests underway now trying to find ways to reduce the carbon emissions of coal power.

Another is the Hydrogen Energy International project in Kern County in California, in which hydrogen and carbon dioxide are also to be separated in a gasification process before the hydrogen runs a gas turbine in a completely novel process, and the carbon dioxide is fed into a local oil field to extract more oil. The feed source in that case is petroleum coke.

The carbon dioxide emissions will be tallied and are expected to be 250 pounds per megawatt-hour. That is almost halving that from natural gas (400 pounds a megawatt-hour), which is about half that of coal.

Clean coal does not exist now. But that might change. Research and Development is a field full of surprises. That is why R&D in fossil fuels is worth following, despite the lies, and especially by environmentalists hoping for as many solutions as we can put together for climate change.

Image: Adopt a Negotiator

Source: Technology Review

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Written By

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.


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