According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the United States produced 1.163 billion tons of coal during the year 2006 and is gradually increasing production by an estimated 2% each year. Since there is twice the amount of coal that can be recovered, used and produced than oil. This means that the growing demand of coal and the amount of energy used in consuming coal is dramatically and ominously increasing. By 2030, 28% of energy that is consumed by coal will increase, while coal consumption will increase to 74%.
So, the question remains how does coal continue to be used? The answer is rather simple, electrical power plants immensely depend on coal consumption. A whopping 49% of coal is generated by electrical power plants, while Nuclear power comes in second to 20.2%, and natural gas comes in third at 18.8 percent. Sadly, solar and wind only account for 2.4%.
The dramatic impact of depending on coal affects the air we all breath and our ecosystem. According to the EIA, the following is just short list of environmental and health problems:
-Polluted water systems
-Deaths/Respiratory deaths as a result of coal
As a result of consuming and producing coal, there have been some solutions to cleaning up coal. First, coal carries ash, sulfur, mercury and many other toxic pollutants. As a result, those pollutants get in the air we breath, the water we drink and the earth around us. So, in order to clean up coal, solutions have been proposed to remove water and coals toxic pollutants from coal itself. The company CoalTek and the state of Kentucky have already started removing water and coals toxic pollutants from coal and as a result, it has made coal more effective and thus allowing less coal to be burned, and less transportation required to transport coal.
Currently, the FutureGen project has received $1.5 billion in funds from the federal government to build a pollution-free coal plant that will produce power by viagasification and hydrogen. While, Fuel-Tech has been investing in creating better broilers that decrease the amount of coal pollutants and carbon dioxide from burning coal.
By: Rebeca Petean
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