Coal InformationCoal mining company, Consol Energy Inc. on July 27th, 2006 reported second-quarter profit more than doubled, boosted by higher prices and lower costs.
Net earnings were $105.9 million, or 57 cents per share, compared with $41.1 million, or 22 cents per share, a year earlier, the Pittsburgh-based company said.
Coal is a fossil fuel extracted from the ground by underground mining or open-pit mining (surface mining). It is a readily combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock. It is composed primarily of carbon along with assorted other elements, including sulfur. Often associated with the Industrial Revolution, coal remains an enormously important fuel and is the largest single source of electricity world-wide. In the United States, for example, the burning of coal generates 50% of the electricity consumed.
Clean coal is coal chemically washed of minerals and impurities, sometimes gasified, burned and the resulting flue gases treated with steam and reburned so as to make the carbon dioxide in the flue gas economically recoverable. The carbon dioxide can then be captured and stored instead of being released into the atmosphere.
The primary example of clean coal is the proposed U.S. FutureGen plant - a zero-emissions coal-fired power plant.
It is also widely believed that some process similar to the natural gas fuel cell or microbial fuel cell (charged from biomass or sewage) may be practical using coal as fuel. Those technologies are used mostly for stationary fuel cells as charging is slow. A large power plant in a coal mine might be the most energy efficient approach and require the least transport of coal to the users, though the return of the coal chute and use in homes is also not impossible in some places, especially if home sewage or natural gas lines can be tapped as well by an improved fuel reformer technology such as that used already to convert methanol, gasoline to the natural gas form.