Coal Energy

Posted July 25th, 2011 by

Coal EnergyCoal is the product of ancient plant remains that have been compacted and altered by heat and pressure over millions of years. Its formation start within swamp ecosystems, where plants die and are subsequently covered with water and dirt. Being buried under increasingly thicker layers, the dead plant matter is tightly compacted and undergoes structural change as oxygen, hydrogen and water migrate out of the dead material. The resulting products become a combustible black rock composed mainly of carbon. Today, coal is one of the most widely used energy sources and continues to be an important provider for our electrical needs.

Producing Energy From Coal
The energy within coal ultimately originates from the sun; the provided energy allowed ancient plants to grow and eventually formed coal. This conserved energy now exists between the chemical bonds forming coal. Coal plants grind coal into a fine powder. A burner combusts the coal, while a precipitator and scrubber remove any impurities and exhaust gas threat from the combusted coal in use to convert water to steam, which turns a turbine. The spinning motion from the turbine turns a generator, which produces electricity.

Coal Energy Advantages   
There are several advantages to using coal energy which include the following:

1. It is affordable and reliable.
2. Coal plants are often flexible, being able to burn coal, oil and biomass.
3. Newer plants have fillers that eliminate 99% of smoke factices and 95% of carbon released.

Coal Energy Disadvantages
Despite the advantages of coal energy there are several disadvantages, which are as follows:

1. Coal is of a limited supply (non-renewable resource).
2. Older plants (with emission filters) generate large amounts of pollution.
3. Coal generated smoke can cause health conditions such as emphysema.
4. Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen emission can bind to water creating acid rain.

As with other traditional energy sources, such as natural gas, coal is not an ideal solution for an energy source. Rather than rely on coal as an energy source, we must seek out cleaner alternative energy.

Photo Credit: CalFinder

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