Researchers from Ohio State University in Columbus believe they have found a way to generate power with coal, without emitting pollution, through a process called coal-direct chemical looping.
The process burns fossil fuels and biomass in pressurised reactors, with metal oxide producing the oxygen needed for combustion. This “loops” gases through a different chamber to produce heat – therefore holding onto the carbon while producing electricity through the heat generated.
Dr. Liang-Shih Fan, distinguished university professor in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and his team have developed this technology that cuts the costs of regulating, monitoring and cleaning up after energy production.
The looping process could have significant implications for the environment, energy efficiency and economic activity as it captures 99% of CO2 normally produced and recycles its by-products.
While gas has largely been seen to be the bridge between the use of fossil fuels and renewables, supply issues have raised questions over its use it the global energy mix. However, with this new technology, coal could well remain a viable alternative as part of the transition.