China has signed an accord to partner with the U. S. on its FutureGen Clean Coal Initiative. The goal of the $1 billion FutureGen project is to build a 275-megawatt prototype power plant that will burn coal and sequester the CO2 emission, producing both electricity and commercial grade hydrogen.
China joins India and South Korea in the partnership that will share technology and replicate clean coal plants in their countries based upon the initial prototype. Two cities in Illinois and two cities in Texas are currently vying to be home to the first FutureGen near-zero emission coal-fired power plant, which is scheduled to begin operation in 2012.
China and the United States are the world’s largest coal producing and consuming nations. It has been estimated that the U. S. has coal reserves to last for the next 250 years.
Clean coal technology will provide several advantages for the transportation sector. First, electric cars and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles will not be using energy from polluting power plants to provide current to recharge the vehicles. Second, clean coal technology will provide commercial grade hydrogen that can be used to power hydrogen cars and vehicles directly. Third, electricity from clean coal power plants that will be used to electrolyze water and create hydrogen will be from near-zero emission power plant sources.
With so much concern about how we are to produce hydrogen to support a hydrogen economy and transportation system, clean coal technology provides another resource for producing hydrogen cleanly and cost-effectively.