There is a growing consensus that increased demand for electricity will cement coal’s place in the energy portfolio for years to come. In fact, more than half of the electricity produced in the United States comes from coal. With demand for electricity expected to double by 2050 and renewable resources still years away from offsetting increased demand, it is clear -- coal is here to stay.
But can ‘dirty’ coal be used cleanly" The answer may be a resounding yes if gasification becomes common place, researchers said today at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston.
“Coal gasification offers one of the most versatile and clean ways to convert coal into electricity, hydrogen and other valuable energy products,” said George Muntean, staff scientist at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, during his presentation at the AAAS symposium entitled “Coal Gasification, Myths, Challenges and Opportunities.”
PNNL scientists organized the symposium to provide an overview of how coal gasification can help meet the growing demand for clean energy.
“Gasification provides significant economic and environmental benefits to conventional coal power plants,” Muntean said. Rather than burning coal directly, gasification breaks down coal into its basic chemical constituents using high temperature and pressure. Because of this, carbon dioxide can be captured from a gas stream far more easily than from the smokestacks of a conventional coal plant.
“If we plan to use our domestic supply of coal to produce energy, and do so in a way that does not intensify atmospheric CO2 concentrations, gasification is critical," Muntean said. "It has the potential to enable carbon capture and sequestration technologies and play an important role in securing domestic sources of transportation fuels.”
Many experts predict that coal gasification will be at the heart of clean coal technology if current lifespan and economic challenges are addressed. One significant challenge is the historically short lifespan of refractories, which are used to line and protect the inside of a gasifier. Currently, refractories have a lifespan of 12 to 16 months. The relining of a gasifier costs approximately $1 million and requires three to six weeks of downtime.
“Gasification happens in an extreme environment so the lifespan of refractories is historically low,” said S.K. Sundaram, PNNL staff scientist. “Refractory lifespan must be increased before we can realize the promise of clean coal.”
During the symposium, S.K Sundaram highlighted two advanced gasifier models developed at PNNL that provide a scientific understanding on when and why refractories fail at such high rates. The data collected from these models could enable advanced or alternative gasification technologies to be produced. Use of these models could extend refractory lifespans by 3 years.
“Advances in modeling will help us better understand some of the key challenges associated with coal gasification – refractory durability and lifespan,” Sundaram said. “This will help reduce the capital costs of operating a coal gasifier.”
During the symposium, researchers at PNNL also highlighted advances in millimeter wave technology that could be used for real-time measurement of critical parameters (temperature, slag viscosity, refractory corrosion) inside a gasifier. The millimeter wave technology, developed at PNNL, has been used for a number of different applications, from airport security to custom fit clothing. Although in the early stages of development for this application, the technology shows promise to increase the efficiency and safety of coal gasifiers.
“Advances in gasification will help us meet demand for clean energy worldwide,” Sundaram said. “Science and technology are paving the way for cleaner coal for future generations.”
Christy Lambert | EurekAlert!
Multiregional brain on a chip
16.01.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter
16.01.2017 | Washington State University
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction