Cleaner coal technology usually addresses atmospheric problems resulting from burning coal. Historically, the primary focus was on sulfur dioxide and particulates, due to the fact that it is the most important gas which leads to acid rain. More recent focus has been on carbon dioxide (due to its likely impact on global warming) as well as other pollutants. Concerns exist regarding the economic viability of these technologies and the timeframe of delivery, potentially high hidden economic costs in terms of social and environmental damage, and the costs and viability of disposing of removed carbon and other toxic matter.
Coal, which is primarily used for the generation of electricity, is the second largest domestic contributor to carbon dioxide emissions in the USA. The public has become more concerned about global warming which has led to new legislation. The coal industry has responded by running advertising touting clean coal in an effort to counter negative perceptions, as well as by putting more than $50 billion towards the development and deployment of clean coal technologies, including carbon capture and storage.
The term ‘clean coal' is often stated in quotation marks by its critics due to claims that it is a misnomer and a public relations term. However, the U.S. government employs the term in its research, as demonstrated by the U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Coal Technology Program. The DOE defines clean coal as "a new generation of energy processes that sharply reduce air emissions and other pollutants from coal-burning power plants."
Learn more about clean coal technology research going on around the country.
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