Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Inventing a New Type of Clean Coal: Carbonite

It sounds suspiciously like "Kryptonite", but Carbonite is the creation of coal researcher Richard Wofe. He says it burns hotter and more cleanly than conventional types of coal.
“What we’re doing is taking the coal apart and putting it back better than it was naturally,” he told his audience of four coal industry insiders who met with him on a recent Saturday in a dusty barn in Lebanon, Va.

Wolfe, the son of a West Virginia coal miner and a former Abingdon-based coal researcher now residing in North Carolina, calls the end result “carbonite,” a glossy chunk of rock that looks more like a burned brownie than coal.

He said it burns hotter than coal and can power generators that make electricity, but without spewing as much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air as regular coal.

The same chunk also could be used in the steel industry, home heating or even water purification.

Simply put, carbonite is the combination of two types of coals heated at high temperatures with a secret catalyst. Wolfe declined to name the catalyst because he intends to patent both the process and the product.

The byproduct of Wolfe’s kiln-based cooking process is methane gas, the main ingredient for natural gas, which often is used to fire steam boilers at electric plants. The orange-yellow methane gas could be seen through the kiln viewport rising from the drum after less than an hour into the burning process.

It’s one byproduct that can be scraped from carbonite for resale.

Gas to power cars and oil – just like the black gold shipped from the Middle East – can be extracted from the carbonite. After all, oil eventually becomes coal, Wolfe explained. What sets carbonite apart is that it produces 25 percent less carbon dioxide than natural coal, half as much sulphur dioxide and no mercury. _NEN
For now, many people high in governments around the world seem to believe that CO2 emissions are a problem. They are wrong, of course. In fact, it is the mercury, the sulfates, the soot etc. that are the problems--the pollution. CO2 is not a pollutant, it is what plants need and love.

Still, Wolfe's invention--if it proves economical--promises to reduce actual pollutants released into the atmosphere, so it should be a positive development. He might try to sell it to the Chinese--the world's biggest polluters--but they would probably just copy and counterfeit his technology and give him nothing in return. Still, it might be worth it just to "help save the polar bears!"



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