Coal comes cheap and abundantly, especially in the United States which has the world’s largest reserves. There’s just that tiny problem…carbon dioxide emissions.
A coalition of private power companies and the U.S. Department of Energy called the FutureGen Alliance, thinks it can create cleaner power by siphoning off carbon dioxide and pumping it underground into reservoirs. The Alliance has been spending the past four years reviewing four locations to host the first full scale power plant and they’ve finally chosen a location, Mattoon, Illinois.
Different than the typical coal plant, the FutureGen plant won’t burn coal, it will instead gasify it. Powdered coal will be exposed to oxygen in a high-pressure heat chamber. The system yields several gases to be processed into hydrogen and then burned in a turbine to produce electricity and carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 is pumped into deep geologic formations, which researchers expect to hold the carbon dioxide indefinitely. We can only hope that the FutureGen project proves to be successful.