Clean Coal My A**

I watched the horrid debate last night, if I wasn’t already disgusted with Trump his performance would have pushed me in that direction. But that’s another story for another day. I want to discuss something I keep hearing from Trump. Trump and the R’s in general keep buzzwording “Clean Coal” and how the emission restrictions enacted by the Obama administration are hurting jobs and the economy. Every time I hear this schtick the words that pop into my head are “what about the environment jackass!?” Sometimes I think it so loudly people sitting in the room can hear me 🙂

Clean coal, (There are several processes of supposedly cleaning coal. The one I am describing is cited as the most hopeful in my limited research) is a process where they scrub CO2 from the coal smoke, run it into a solvent that absorbs the CO2, then gasify the solvent at high heat, thereby releasing the CO2, then pressurizing it and disposing of it through deep well injection into sandstone or depleted oceanic oil deposits. Sounds simple enough, right?

Well not so fast. Even with this very expensive technology, and its very high operating demand, (as much as 25-30% of a coal plants output) with the current tech and actual (now no longer operating) operating facilities, they were only capturing a few hundred tons of CO2 per day. This when an average coal plant emits 5000 tons of CO2 per day!

American Electric Power, a large power company I believe based in Ohio, built their test facility at their Mountaineer plant in W. Virginia. They did a proof of concept run (between Oct 2009 and May 2011), that shows they can make coal cleaner, but the cost and the inneffeciency has proven in the long run that clean coal is a myth. Such a low carbon capture rate compounded by extreme costs, and extreme power consumption, led to them shelving the notion of large scale expansion. (they blamed uncertain regulations and the economy, if you are interested see the second link at the bottom of this post.) Also the long term storage of any sequestered CO2 is questionable at best. Who can gurantee this stored CO2 will stay where it is put? Who wants to take the heat when something goes wrong 20 years down the road?

No one is making clean coal today and damn well likely not tomorrow either.

The notion of clean coal is an oxymoron. They can make coal cleaner than it is, but not by a large enough percentage to make a noticeable dent in our CO2 footprint. Clean coal is nothing more than buzz word pandering to voters in coal states, and a political fantasy. At least with todays technology.

Until someone comes up with an economic coal cleaning plan that reduces carbon emissions by at least 50% I think they are chasing their tails. Chasing tails while amusing, in this case adds up to many millions if not billions of wasted dollars. See here:

That link is about a new clean coal plant in Mississippi. It was supposed to be the latest greatest cleanest coal plant ever. However at this time it has become mired in cost overruns and piss poor management. Thanks to a whistle blower much of the problems came to light. Now if and when they can get this plant operational and show their actual numbers I’ll be glad to reconsider my notion of the high improbability of anything resembling clean coal at this time in our history.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/a4947/4339171/

http://www.aep.com/newsroom/newsreleases/?id=1704

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Clean Coal My A**

  1. An oxymoron, touted by a moron. Couldn’t have said it all better myself. Well done Shell!

    • Much appreciated Swarn 🙂

      I call it (an attempt to) “Keeping up with the Swarnses” 😉

      Honestly over the course of the debates, and Trumps campaign, where I have seen hats saying “Trump Digs Coal”, and hearing Trump himself talk about the Clean Air Act and how it hurts the miners, and making claims of “rolling back the war on coal”, I just had to dig a little and see what the deal really is.

      The deal is coal cannot be made clean in any real sense of the word. Especially if you are using 25-30% of the plants output to scrub a few hundred tons per day. It is going backwards! If you are using 25-30% of your output to clean emissions by a fraction , that means you are burning more coal to keep up with the scrubbing than it’s worth!

      It is a grand idea, clean coal, but impractical at best with this tech.

      • I was just watching a 10 minute piece that was done by The Guardian in the UK that is floating around Facebook and they were interviewing people in McDowell county in WV which is the poorest county in the nation. They had the highest percentage of people vote for Trump in the primaries and so The Guardian wants to find out way. It seems he’s got so many people fooled into believing he is going to bring coal jobs back because a lot of these counties are so desperate for jobs that they are pinning all their hopes on pipe dreams. Of course coal jobs are never coming back. It’s sad how many empty promises people are eating up from Trump.

      • The only promises Trump would manage to keep are the ones he isn’t telling. Along the lines of how he will set up the loopholes for him and his rich crony friends to take advantage of damn near everything.

        I hope you are right about the coal jobs, because if that is wrong then we are moving backwards in a bad way. Hell we aren’t moving forwards in a good way either. At least not fast enough.

        Again and again we tend to see the most desperate cling to the the fantasies of their religions and their human manifestations of their gods. I guess destitution breeds desperation.

      • Indeed. Fighting destitution should be a goal of any moral society. Sadly that doesn’t seem to be the case.

  2. Yep, I vomited in my mouth when I heard that said.

  3. I would like to add something to your well presented post. Carbon is a tremendous source of energy that people have used for ever since there have been people . The problem with carbon is that there is no way to extract the energy we desire from it cleanly no matter what form it comes in and there are way more people that desire said energy than ever before. Looking elsewhere for the required/desired energy is the only option we have left. (Otherwise there will suddenly be many fewer people on earth than now and the energy requirements for those remaining will not put such a burden on our Earth ! Will anyone have a match ? lol )

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