The utility industry has been searching for an affordable and effective way to reduce mercury and other toxic emissions for years. Emerging technologies exist that substantially reduce emissions at Coal fired power plants. By adding a combination of products – one being Iron Oxide – Mercury, NOX, and SOX emissions are reduced through chemical bonding. The bonding occurs during the cooling process and that captures the Mercury, etc. and it becomes part of the ash rather than released into the air.
Magnetite is also revolutionizing the coal-powered electrical industry through an exciting process that produces vast amount of heat and pure, extractable carbon dioxide which is easy to capture and sequester away. Through a process called chemical looping, energy is produced cleaner than traditional, open burn techniques, and this just may be the future of cheap, carbon-reducing energy production.
Where traditional coal plants burn coal in the open air, chemical looping is a process that takes the coal and introduces it to oxygen-bearing materials, like iron oxide, in a closed system.
Iron reacts with the coal, and energy bound in the coal breaks the bonds between the iron and oxygen. Later in the reaction, iron interacts with air, and the chemical reaction produces heat, which is used to produce steam. This reaction takes place at much lower temperatures than traditional coal burning, and it produces almost no nitrogen oxide and a nearly pure stream of carbon dioxide, which can be siphoned off for underground storage.
Though currently in stages of research, construction is underway in Alabama on a 250-kilowatt coal-powered plant using the new technique. Researchers believe that chemical loop plants may be one of the cheapest ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
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