Coal is almost the perfect fuel. It's cheap and absurdly abundant—especially in the U.S., which has the world's larges reserves. There's just that tiny problem of massive climate-altering carbon dioxide emissions. Or is there?
The FutureGen Alliance—a coalition of private power companies and the U.S. Department of Energy—thinks it can make power cleanly by siphoning off the carbon dioxide and pumping it into underground reservoirs. The Alliance spent the past year evaluating four locations around the country that applied to host the first full-scale power plant using the technology; and today it chose Mattoon, Illinois as the winner.
Unlike a regular coal power plant, the FutureGen plant won't actually burn coal but gasify it by exposing powdered coal to oxygen in a high-pressure heated chamber. The system yields several gases which are processed into hydrogen, which burns in a turbine to produce electricity, and carbon-dioxide, which is pumped into deep geologic formations that researchers expect to hold the gas indefinitely. Proponents say that gasification is easier than capturing CO2 from a regular power plant because it produces it produces a smaller volume of exhaust and it easily traps most other pollutants from coal, such as Mercury.
Pop Sci reported on the FutureGen project in February 2007, and we're anxious to see if the Alliance can make good on its bold promise.—Sean Captain
(Image Credit: Kevin Hand)
How about maximizing solar energy in the Southwest U.S., wind in the plains, and hydro power around fresh and salt water. Each home should have its own power source whether it would cover all the needs or part of them. The resources are already there and put out no pollutants. Conservation would go along way toward eliminating our need as well. After all this is maximized then we should look toward "fuels".
Humans will continue to need fossil fuel for at least 50-100 years before we have the widespread use of alternative fuels. If we don't find better ways of using fossil fuels we are going to have a huge problem. Developing nations also use coal as their main source of fuel and lots of it. Perhaps we can help these nations protect the environment by providing them with this sort of technology.
Check out this book that deals with this issue...
Also, listen to this radio program...
If you use the nex gen coal plant and a way to burn the sea water efficently with minimal power you could take the h2 and o and seperate them then inject the h2 from that process which combine with the co2 to make methane which at that point you could burn it which will just make co2 and water vapor then seperate the co2 and water vapor just to stick it back into the ground along with more h2 to start the process all over again. In other words you would ecentually have 10 underground tanks with shock absorbers like the ones that are used in chiane mountain ( 4 for co2, 4 for h2, and 2 for methane that is made). The o2 that is also produced can be combined back to the plant or turned into a fuel source. In a sense 5 power plants in one which will increass the power efficency by 300 percent and will not leave any co2 imprent at all while also supplying a lot more power for hybred and electric cars as well as your power grid.