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SOS 314, Unit 2 Notes

by: Taryn O'Boyle

SOS 314, Unit 2 Notes SOS 314

Taryn O'Boyle
GPA 4.0

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About this Document

Here are my notes from the 2 videos on coal for Unit 2 over the second week of class! These explain what coal is, how it's extracted, and how electricity is created from it.
Basic Energy Science
Dr. Jonathan Kelman
Class Notes
Energy, coal
25 ?




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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Taryn O'Boyle on Saturday September 10, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to SOS 314 at Arizona State University taught by Dr. Jonathan Kelman in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 11 views. For similar materials see Basic Energy Science in Sustainability at Arizona State University.


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Date Created: 09/10/16
SOS 314 ~ Unit 2 Coal­ What is it? How do we extract it?  Second source of energy only to petroleum  #1 for electricity­ generates 41%  Industrial Revolution  Peat: precursor to coal, wetter but can still be burned  Coal: compressed remains of ancient plants matter (low oxygen for usually 3­4 million yrs)  o 3­7 feet of plant matter to make 1 foot o Lignite, sub­bituminous (Powder River Basin in WY+MT), bituminous (Appalachian  area), anthracite (most pure, burns without smoke, not much left) o Want lower sulfur content and sulfur­oxide emissions (SOX → acid rain)  Extraction: how much? how close to surface? how easy to transport? profitable? o Old school: dig hole and send people (children) to get it, low productivity, dangerous o Semi­old: mechanized, control close or far, 4 tons/min (miner in a day), expensive,  less surface disruption o Newer: remove dirt above, ~ 60% of US coal, safer, high productivity, pretty cheap  Mountain top removal and valley fill: high biological disruption o Remediation: returning land to natural state afterwards o Worker safety: black lung  Soil pollution:  o Tailings (rocks you didn't use), high in heavy metals, rain o Acid mine drainage: abandoned mines fill with water, the metals rust and contaminate  Treat with limestone (base) o Could pierce water table, start underground coal fires, hard to put out, toxic gases  vent to surface (Centralia, PA)  Refining process: o Coal prep plant: crush, sort, wash, dewater (left with coal slurry) o Transport via train (10,000 tons) or barge, costly o Unloading: turns or drops it out Coal­ Making electricity pros and cons Thermal power plants­ coal used to create heat, which boils water After unloading: o Pulverized to increase surface area, blown into boiler room, creates hot and high  pressure steam (and gases out smoke stack) for turbine which spins generator to  induce current o Steam then condensed back into water and disposed of or used to heat stuff o Open water cycle: drawn from nearby water source, released o Closed: condensed and recycled, some lost to evaporation Most power plants have multiple units 1st coal plant built by Thomas Edison in 1882 Effects o Sulfur oxides and acid deposition, aquatic systems sensitive and stuff melts o Gather it with scrubbers but then left with it all to dispose of still o Nitrogen oxides­ ground level ozone and lung irritant Particulate Matter: things that don't burn, ash, smaller is worse o Electrostatic precipitator (ESP) = most effective way to clean, but uses power o Power plants emit mercury and CO2 (carbon sequestration to put underground) o Coal ash ponds and spills, try to reuse to strengthen concrete, etc. Likely won't run out of coal soon, not as high of a percentage for electricity any more in US­  increased price due to environment cost, natural gas plants less expensive o China using much more Coal isn't great for transportation "Clean coal" is expensive and decreases overall efficiency My discussion board posts: Personally, I believe that coal will continue to play a large role in the production of energy for some time. Though it  is a nonrenewable resource, it seems to be decently abundant for the time being. Cleaner methods of refining have  been developed, but as it was said in one of the lecture videos, it also appears that we're reaching a sort of limit with  that technology. Over the past decade, the curve has slowed and may be approaching the minimal pollution for the  process. I do think that the future of coal will consist of looking for ways to improve this better yet though, even if it is only slightly. As was mentioned in the selection by Nersesian (1), coal mining is not as dangerous for individuals as it once was.  However, I felt like the lecture videos on coal for this unit pretty clearly demonstrated how some of our present  methods require some more removal of the land above the seams than before, when a hole would simply be dug  down and people would go in. I think and hope that the process of mining coal in the future will attempt to reduce  that destruction as much as possible. The cost efficiency also mentioned in the Nersesian reading makes it seem unlikely that coal will entirely disappear  as a fuel source any time soon. It may not be the cheapest anymore, as Dr. Kelman points out in this thread, but it is  still fairly level with many other sources out there today. I imagine we'll be headed towards a wider range of energy  sources as we find more efficient (cost and labor) methods for other fuels, but it may take a while until the set ups  for collecting those sources are as established as coal mining and power plants. My opinion could definitely be changed by more information regarding the abundance, cost, or pollution rates of  coal over the next few years. It'll be very interesting to see how all of our predictions about the future of energy  sources such as coal and natural gas measure up over our lifetimes. 1) Nersesian, R. L. (2010). Energy for the 21st Century: A Comprehensive Guide to  Conventional aernative Sources. M E Sharpe Incorporated.


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