Clean coal

This will be cool, if it pans out:

Researchers have discovered a stunning new process that takes the energy from coal without burning it — and removes virtually all of the pollution. . .

Fan discovered a way to heat coal, using iron-oxide pellets for an oxygen source and containing the reaction in a small, heated chamber from which pollutants cannot escape. The only waste product is therefore water and coal ash — no greenhouse gases. As an added benefit, the metal from the iron-oxide can be recycled. . .

Fan’s process, called “coal-direct chemical looping,” has been proven in a small scale lab at OSU. The next step is to take it to a larger test facility in Alabama, and Fan believes the technology can be commercialized and used to power an energy plant within five to 10 years, if all goes smoothly. . .

The notion of carbon sequestration, in which CO2 would be pulled out of the air and stored, seems awfully hard. This sounds much more plausible. I hope it can be made cost effective.

POSTSCRIPT: Interestingly, the environmentalists — who ought to be delighted by a way to burn coal and generate only solid waste — seem to be against it. One might get the impression that they aren’t anti-pollution but anti-energy.

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