Engineers in Nottingham are developing ultra-clean coal that could make power generation 50% more efficient and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by a third. A team at The University of Nottingham is one of only two in the world working on ground-breaking techniques to purify one of the world’s main energy sources.
They have been awarded £120,000 to help them develop the ultra-clean fuel for the power stations of the future. Dr Karen Steel, of the School of Chemical, Environmental and Mining Engineering, said: “Ultra-clean coal is seen as something of a Holy Grail in energy generation. “It’s a very efficient way of producing electricity, and it’s also much less harmful for the environment. This is an exciting project in the sense that ultra-clean coal has world-wide applicability.”
When coal is dug from the ground, it contains about 15% mineral matter — including sulphates, oxides, clays, quartz and carbonates — which greatly restricts its use. A chemical leaching process being developed by Dr Steel and her team promises to reduce this figure to less than 0.1% — meaning much greater efficiency per tonne of coal and up to 33% less carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution from the power station. CO2 emissions are implicated in global warming. Currently almost a third of such emissions in the UK come from power stations.
Dr Karen Steel | alfa
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