Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ultra-clean coal to power a greener future

11.05.2005


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.


Most conventional coal-fired power stations burn coal to produce steam, which turns turbines linked to a generator. Although efficiencies have gradually risen over the years, they are typically around 37 per cent, which means just over a third of the energy potential of the coal is converted into electricity. But because ultra-clean coal can be burned directly in gas turbines, it has a potential efficiency of around 55 per cent — a relative increase of 50% from current levels.

Gas turbines are similar to aircraft jet engines and are a much more efficient way of using coal to make electricity — but normal coal cannot be used in them because impurities damage the turbine blades. Dr Steel added: “There has been an assumption that it would be too expensive to produce ultra-clean coal. “But our aim is to do it cheap, so the coal will sell for not much more than it would otherwise. There are potential markets for ultra-clean coal technology all over the world – and not only for power generation. Ultra-clean coal could also be converted to carbon-rich products such as carbon electrodes used in aluminium smelting.”

The technique being developed at University Park has been dubbed “The Nottingham process for ultra-clean coal”. A grant of £120,000 has been made by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Ultra-clean coal could also help reduce the world’s dependence on oil, said Dr Steel. There are greater untapped reserves of coal, and they are generally located away from the politically sensitive Middle East. For example, China and the USA both have large reserves of coal — but not much oil.

The only other body working on ultra-clean coal technology is the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Association in Australia. They are investigating a different technique in pursuit of the same goal.

Dr Karen Steel | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nottingham.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

CCNY physicists master unexplored electron property

26.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Molecular microscopy illuminates molecular motor motion

26.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Large-Mouthed Fish Was Top Predator After Mass Extinction

26.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>