coal: To mine or not to mine...?

that is the question


coal is one of the many non renewable resources on this earth. there are four types of coal, lignite, sub-bituminous, bituminous, and anthracite. we use the different types for electricity, space heating, locomotive power, producing coke for steel, and synthetic fuel. to produce electricity from coal you pulverize it and burn to heat steam. an advantage of using coal is it accounts for about 50% of the us electricity. a disadvantage of burning coal is it emits waste such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur acid, arsenic and coal ash. burning coal by large factories leads to acid rain.coal is mined two ways, surface mining and underground mining.

anniversary of a environmental problem still effecting today's life

a coal power plant in Tennessee run by the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) has been under scrutiny because of an issue that happened in 2008. A coal ash spill happened in Kingston Tennessee when a dike broke and spilled 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash. Most of which went into the waterways and covered 300 acres of land. This disaster polluted groundwater supplies around all its coal-fired power plants including ones near Gallatin and Clarksville. Now TVA it is said in a report from 2011 that the TVA isn't doing all it can and might actually still be polluting the ground water. The source says it got its information from the TVAs monitoring wells. The wells had pollutants including arsenic, boron, cobalt, manganese, and sulfate. Which all are byproducts of burning coal and coal ash storage. TVA’s response to the report is that it has been displaying its commitment to cleaner environmentally friendly storage facilities by switching from wet to dry ash storages and retiring old less efficient fossil fuel plants.

clean coal?

Ohio State University scientist have been trying to find a clean coal technique. using only 5 million dollars in funding from the government and have finally succeeded after 15 years. liang shih fan is a chemical engineer and director of ohio states clean coal research and says they have found a way to release the heat from coal without burning it. the way they heat it removes 99 percent of the pollution from coal.though the processes will cost more it will reduce the pollution by billions. instead of using oxygen he uses iron oxide pellets and contains the reaction in a small heated chamber.the only products of it will be water and coal ash. no more greenhouse gasses will be released. also the iron oxide can be recycled. fans process "coal-direct chemical looping" has worked in the small scale lab in OSU. the next step is to put it in a bigger scale facility in Alabama.


The united states and other countries should stop using coal as an energy source. Even though coal is a big part of our energy source and we have such an abundant amount in the united states. the damage it does to the environment is unbearable. coal burning power plants amount for one third of the nations carbon dioxide total in 2010 or about 2.3 billion metric tons. the coal ash left from burning coal also can effect ground water and other water ways like what happened in Tennessee. the smoke given off from coal burning facilities will create acid rain. coal mining also scares lands and disturbs wildlife.

Interesting facts

  • the first recorded discovery of coal in this country was by a french explorer on the Illinois river in 1679
  • the earliest commercial mining operation happened in Richmond,Virginia in 1748
  • north america has the highest coal content


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"Fossil Fuel." Fossil Fuel RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Jan. 2014.

"Coal Fact Sheet." Coal. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Jan. 2014.

"Coal: The Cleanest Energy Source There Is?" Fox News. FOX News Network, n.d. Web. 07 Jan. 2014.