Talk:Conventional coal-fired power plant/Draft

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Wikipedia has a similar article (i.e., "Fossil fuel power plant")

I was a substantial contributor to the WP article. It has been completely re-written and reformatted before uploading here as a CZ article. However, it still contains some of the WP content. Milton Beychok 06:41, 21 November 2008 (UTC)


Milton, I read it, found it interesting, and added a few small things. To me it seems that in the section about CO2 emission the opinion of the environmentalists must be heard. Of course, carbon/coal is the worst fuel from the point of view of CO2 emission and therefore there is fierce resistance against the construction of new coal-powered plants (by the same people who resist nuclear-powered plants and advertise the use of electric cars). But CZ needs to voice this opinion as well. --Paul Wormer 10:37, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

Paul, thanks for your comments. As clearly noted in the main article, the CO2 and Radioactive Nuclide sections have not yet been written (as of December 9, 2009). When I write those sections, they will receive the same detailed discussion as provided in the Particulate Matter, SO2 and NOx sections. Milton Beychok 17:53, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

CO2 emission

Milton, I don't quite understand why the carbon content of coal has great influence on the emission of a 500 MW plant. When the carbon content is lower, combustion enthalpy is also lower, and more coal must be burned to achieve the 500 MW. My guess would be that the ratio CO2-emission/energy of coal is more or less constant. I can understand a certain influence when heat of combustion is delivered (in non-negligible amount) by compounds in coal other than pure carbon. Is that the case?

Of course, I see that the thermal efficiency of the plant is also an important factor, as you point out.--Paul Wormer 11:17, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

Paul, if coal is completely combusted and no auxiliary equipment is involved in that combustion, then you are correct ... the carbon content of the coal would not usually effect the amount of CO2 emissions.
However, in a coal-fired power plant, the coal must be transported and crushed and that requires plant internal usage of electric power. Removal of the bottom ash requires plant internal usage of electric power. Removal of the fly ash with electrostatic precipitators requires internal plant usage of electric power. A lower carbon content coal means more coal is required (as you noted) and therefore the plant's internal usage of electricity increases ... which decreases the net output of electricity and hence the overall plant efficiency is decreased.
Also, if a lower carbon content is accompanied by a higher ash content in the coal, that may mean that more unburned carbon is lost in the ash and therefore the combustion efficiency is reduced. Also again, if a lower carbon content is accompanied by a higher hydrogen content, then some of the energy release in the combustion is derived from combustion of hydrogen rather than carbon which would affect the amount of carbon dioxide emissions.
All of the above items affect the carbon dioxide emissions. Admittedly, they are not very large effects, but they are significant. - Milton Beychok 20:29, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
OK, I see now. I misread your text somewhat (on rereading I see that is my fault), and thought that you argued: low carbon content gives low CO2-emission. Now I see that it is opposite, which makes more sense. Low carbon content: more energy costing overhead and hence to achieve the fixed 500 MW target, more CO2 emission.--Paul Wormer 08:29, 20 December 2008 (UTC)

Copy edits prompted by an external reviews

I asked a long-time friend and colleague, a chemical engineer named Willard Gekler, to review this article. As a result of his comments (transmitted as a Microsoft Word document), I have just made numerous copy edits which I believe improve the article. I want to acknowledge his help and thank him for it. Milton Beychok 09:41, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

I also asked another chemical engineer friend, named Henry Padleckas, to review this article. As a result of his comments (transmitted as a Wordpad file), I have just made numerous copy edits which I believe improve the article. I want to acknowledge his help and thank him for it. Milton Beychok 00:27, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

Understanding the title

Could you help me understand the "conventional"? I usually think of conventional as synonymous for fossil- rather than nuclear- or solar-powered. Are there other sorts of coal-fired power plants that use substantially different reactions? --Howard C. Berkowitz 18:07, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

Yes, Howard, there are some versions of coal-fired power plants other than the plain vanilla (conventional) version described in this article. If you will look at the section headed "Alternatives to coal-fired power plants", there is a brief mention of:
  • Integrated gasification combined cycle plants referred to as IGCC plants
  • Fluidized bed combustion plants referred to as FBC plants (and there a couple of advanced versions of this)
  • Oxygen firing plants that use oxygen for coal combustion rather than air, and are referred to as Oxy firing
I hope this answers your question. Milton Beychok 19:57, 13 April 2010 (UTC)


Would "coal-fired" still be the correct term for all of these? Let me hope so, although without looking at gasification in detail, I wondered if that coal is the stock for the gas, but the gas actually fires the plant. Anyway, minimal contextualization (also in Related Articles) could be no more than a disambiguation page for coal-fired power plant (i.e., replacing the current redirect to conventional coal-fired power plant), with lemmas (and redirects) for

Actually, above this could be, again at no more than the disambig/related article level, fossil-fueled [electric] power plants. Is the top-level article, then, electrical power plant, which would include coal, gas, solar, nuclear, geothermal, etc.? I realize that some of this is more electrical than chemical engineering.

This encourages me to go and do something on marine propulsion. Modern vessels use variations of direct combustion engines to drive the propellers, versus combinations of engines (e.g., diesel and turbine), to partial and pure electric motors driving the propellers with different combustion engines to drive the generator. Indeed, nuclear-propelled ships still use electric drive, but different sorts of reactors to drive the generator. --Howard C. Berkowitz 15:01, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

Really, the article itself is very close to nomination; I need to read it once again, interspersed with doing remote computer support for a hysterical college freshman who can't grasp the idea of using a pencil and paper for her report. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:05, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

Howard, I added some links to the Related Articles subsection in line with your suggestions about conceptualizing. And yes, I suppose that the top-level article would be Electrical power plants. Milton Beychok 17:00, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
I just started the disambiguation page, following Howard's suggestions. --Daniel Mietchen 18:56, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
Daniel, there already is a Power plant (disambiguation) page which I created in 2008 and which is much more all-encompassing. Do you believe that we need Coal-fired power plant (disambiguation) as well? Could we not simply add "Coal-fired power plant" to the 2008 DAB? I don't mind having both DABs but just wonder if we need them both. Milton Beychok 19:17, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

Great article!!!

Looked it over. Great job!--Thomas Wright Sulcer 19:30, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

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