Scorching August day:
Gibson generating station in Indiana on a peak performance:
180-foot high boiler
25 tons of coal per minute
3,000 megawatts of electric power
50% more than the Hoover Dam
Burns three 100-car trainloads of coal per day
Estimated that if carbon was captured before reaching the atmosphere, 25% of the energy would be lost
First capturing plant:
In Germany
Captures 80-90% of carbon dioxide emitted
  1. of mines as of 2008:
East of Miss. River: 1,351
West of Miss. River: 84

Coal Reserves:
Expected to last between 37 and 56 years
~800-900 million metric tons
Mountain Top Removal
In 2006: 6,743,786,000 short tons used in the world.
US used 14% of that, and 90% towards electricity

When coal is used for electricity generation, it is usually pulverized and then combusted (burned) in a furnace with a boiler. The furnace heat converts boiler water to steam, which is then used to spin turbines which turn generators and create electricity.

Coal is the official state mineral of Kentucky and the official state rock of Utah. Both U.S. states have a historic link to coal mining.
Some cultures uphold that children who misbehave will receive only a lump of coal from Santa Claus for Christmas in their stockings instead of presents.
It is also customary and lucky in Scotland to give coal as a gift on New Year's Day. It happens as part of First-Footing and represents warmth for the year to come.
Coal makes up for 40% of energy in the US.
Have a prominent spot on their website promising stewardship when it comes to the environment.


The US imports around 300,000 shorts tons from Canada.
The US imports around 4.5 million short tons from South American, specifically Colombia and Venezuela.

Uses of Coal:
  • Coal as fuel- electricity and heat generation through combustion, clean coal technology,
  • Gasification- Gasification avoids burning coal altogether. With integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) systems, steam and hot pressurized air or oxygen combine with coal in a reaction that forces carbon molecules apart. The resulting syngas, a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, is then cleaned and burned in a gas turbine to make electricity. The heat energy from the gas turbine also powers a steam turbine.
  • Coke- The solid residue of impure carbon obtained from bituminous coal and other carbonaceous materials after removal of volatile material by destructive distillation. It is used as a fuel and in making steel.

Readily Available
Not too expensive
Gets the job done


Limited amount of coal
Mountain top removal has its environmental side effects
Burning of coal releases greenhouse gases into the air

Better CCS facilities are being built in order to reduce the environmental effects.