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Burning coal to save the environment?

May 2, 2012

A chemical process that combines 3 parts of cheap (and plentiful) sub-bituminous coal with 1 part of petroleum coke creates hydrogen with nearly zero carbon emissions.  The hydrogen can then be used to generate clean electricity.   What CO2 that is generated in the process is captured and injected into oil wells for enhanced oil recovery.  The other byproducts include various fertilizer products that can be shipped to local farmers.  This is the plan of Hydrogen Energy California.  However appealing the plan sounds, it faces an uphill fight for approval, as the State of California government has been trying to force all power suppliers – even those based out of state – to cease the use of coal in electricity generation.  The trick here for HEC is to convince regulators that the actual feedstock is hydrogen, and not the coal that goes into creating the hydrogen.    If this process is allowed to go ahead and it proven to be cost effective, it could be a game changer even greater than the hydraulic fracturing revolution has been.

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