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Published:July 14th, 2007 06:54 EST
Clean Coal Technology May Not be the Solution the Environment Needs

Clean Coal Technology May Not be the Solution the Environment Needs

By Jennifer L. Hernandez

Hello everyone! This is Jennifer Hernandez, from Keeping News Light, reporting for thesop.org and newsblaze.com. You have just tuned into a special edition broadcast covering the latest news story.

Clean coal technology may not be the solution the environment needs now. Coal is a vital energy source. It is responsible for 23% of primary energy needs, 39% of electricity and 70% of world steel production. Burning coal produces about 9 billion tons of carbon dioxide, which is released into the atmosphere. Clean coal technology "washes" the coal, per se; to reduce emissions of ash and sulfur. Large-scale storage of the byproducts from clean coal technology will require extensive pipelines and has safety implications.

Many coal corporations are trying to establish technologies that will produce zero emissions. The K-Fuel process, that was formerly used by the Black Hills Corporation and is now part of the Evergreen Energy Corporation, involves heat and pressure to physically and chemically change low BTU coals. The changes produce more efficient and lower emission fuels. However, energy policy has insinuated that the clean coal technology will be directly involved in improving the environment and making a significant impact to change the course of global warming now. For instance, President Bush in 2003 announced that the United States sponsored a $1.5 billion dollar project called FutureGen that will rely on integrated sequestration and hydrogen production. Production at this plant will begin in the year 2012. The production or processes that will take place at this plant will be tests to determine if certain new technologies are feasible on a continuous basis in the future: there are no guarantees.

Sustainable energy seems to be a viable option to use now. Countries need to become serious about choosing a definitive course of action as the world only has about 9 years to drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions and change the outlook of global warming. However, many large corporations involved with clean coal technology and nuclear energy have succeeded in gaining government sponsorship and support. These two technologies still have years of improvements and tests to conduct to prove efficiency and they are unable to contribute, currently, to the issue at hand. Many companies involved with sustainable energy are small and have yet to gain large-scale governmental support.

Some of the concerns regarding clean coal technology is the production of by-products and waste removal, which will rake in a huge price tag. Transportation of coal under new technology calls to question its methods. For instance, on September 12, 2006 Evergreen Energy made shipments of over 100 freight cars of coal. Upon removal, a large cloud of coal dust was released into the air and spontaneously combusted.

Sustainable energy is synonymous with bioenergy. On June 26, 2007 the Energy Department allocated $375 million to be spread among three bioenergy companies which appears to be a small amount when compared with the $1.5 billion allocated for one facility. In 2006, Haliburton established a sustainable energy plan, report and is also involved with new coal technology. Companies such as General Electric and Bechtel have jumped on the bandwagon, as well.

Time will tell which process, provided by any particular company or source, will hold the answer to reducing emissions and ensuring its waste disposal is safe for the environment. However, a reliable process harnessed now may just be the key needed to save the environment.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me at justaskjl@aol.com