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The Challenge (Coal continued)

Carbon Dioxide Pollution from the Burning of Coal

The burning of coal also produces more CO2 per unit of energy than any other fossil fuel. When you mine and burn coal, you release not only sulfur dioxide and heavy metals, you also release CO2-- lots and lots of it. We burn about one billion tons of coal each year in the United States. Let’s calculate how much CO2 this releases.

Coal is not 100% carbon and the percentage of carbon in coal varies. In bituminous coal, about 80% of the rock is actually carbon. So when you multiply .80% (the amount of carbon in a rock) times 3.67 (the amount of CO2 you derive from that carbon), you get the adjusted number of about 3.0.

If you burn a mountain top of coal
you are releasing about 3 mountain tops of CO2!*

That's the equation. If you are seriously planning to capture and sequester the carbon dioxide emitted with the burning of coal, those are the proportions. This carbon dioxide gas, CO2, is overheating the planet.

Can Dirty Coal be Made Clean?

Here is what would have to be done:

  • You have to capture all the CO2 coming out of the smoke stack which is THREE times the volume and mass of what you are burning!
  • All that captured carbon dioxide has to be transported and sequestered somewhere for all time.
  • You have to capture all the toxic metals, especially mercury a neurotoxin (toxic to nerve tissue), that is pouring out of the smoke stacks.
  • You have to capture all the SO2, NO and soot spewing from the stacks.
  • You have to dispose of the toxic ash that is left behind at the power plants after the coal is burned in such a way that the toxic metals (mercury, lead, chromium and arsenic) can not be leached into the environment and contaminate ground water or soils.
  • You have to safely dispose of mine tailings that have similar issues.
  • You have to safely dispose of the toxins captured by scrubbers in the smoke stacks.

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5 - The Lumps of Coal Campaign

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