Cleaning Up Coal

by Ian Torrens, Dir.; Environmental Control, Electric Power Research Institute, P.O. Box 10412, Palo Alto, CA 94303,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1990, Vol. 60, Issue 10, Pg. 62-65

Document Type: Feature article


Coal, which fueled the industrial revolution in the 19th century and two wars in the 20th, should continue to be a major power source well into the 21st century. Its abundance keeps the cost low, but concerns over acid rain, toxics in the air and global warming could change that. Can coal rise to the environmental challenge? Utilities must find ways to comply with strict limits on polluting emissions and increase conversion efficiency well above the present 35%. The issues involved are both technological and economic: In what ways and at what price can coal be transformed into useful energy while reducing its environmental impact to a level society can accept? Over the past decade, the high cost of environmental control in new powerplants and the growing likelihood of new emissions regulations on existing plants led to the development of a family of clean-coal technologies designed to provide more effctive and economical control options.

Subject Headings: Coal | Acid rain | Emissions | Economic factors | Power plants | Toxicity | Global warming | Pricing

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