“Coal Scrubbers Give Illinois Basin New Life” – Wall Street Journal, 9 January 2014

Natural gas has been dominating the news, and many feel that the influx of the major energy source has inadvertently waged a war on coal. US coal production dropped 7% in 2012, but now coal is making a resurgence, mainly due to the Illinois Basin, which extends from Illinois to Missouri, Indiana and Western Kentucky.

The Illinois Basin was a key US coal basin, until the Clean Air Act of 1970 passed, making the Illinois Basin unfavorable for mining. Illinois coal has elevated levels of sulfur, which is partially responsible for acid rain. However, widespread use of scrubbing technology has allowed for mines in Illinois to reopen—scrubbing technology can lift 97% of a coal-fired power plants’ sulfur dioxide. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicted that Illinois would generate 56 million tons of coal in 2013, a 70% increase from 2010. The Illinois Basin is anticipated to produce more coal than Central Appalachia, another major US coal basin.

While natural gas has been a huge boost to our economy and is the cleaner energy source, the coal industry provides the US with many jobs. There will be more jobs available as the basin reopens near railroads and along the Mississippi River.

As the US inches towards a more desired energy independence and security, we must continue to pursue a prudent “all of the above ” energy strategy.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

March 21, 2014

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2013. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net    skdas@phinix.net

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“In the Midwest, Coal Stages a Comeback” – Wall Street Journal, 5 May 2013

NA-BW254_ILLCOA_G_20130505202706Over the last couple years, coal use in the US has fallen, as more companies are instead choosing to dig for natural gas. However, coal mining in the Midwest is only increasing: this year, coal production has risen by 8%, and natural gas output has decreased by 8%.

While the US’s 2012 coal production declined by 7% from 2011 — Wyoming’s Power River Basin and the Central Appalachia mines getting hit the most — coal production in the Illinois Basin, comprised of southern Illinois, Indiana, and western Kentucky, is on the rise. Coal manufacturing in the Illinois Basin grew by 10% in 2012 and is set to continue growing over the next several years, overtaking Central Appalachia’s output for the first time.

Mining in the Midwest is generally low-cost: Illinois Basin coal is much more attainable and thicker than Central Appalachia coal, and costs half as much to mine. Yet, the Midwest has long been disregarded for coal mining, since the area’s coal contains high volumes of sulfur. That’s changing, as new equipment, called scrubbers, eliminate the sulfur, which allows Midwestern coal to meet emissions standards. Adding to the low-cost nature of the Illinois Basin is the fact that a majority of the miners are nonunion – only 6% belong to the United Mine Workers of America.

Illinois mines are anticipated to manufacture 56 million tons of coal, a 70% increase from 2010′s 33 million tons. In comparison, West Virginia mines are anticipated to decline from 92 million tons in 2010 to 79 million tons in 2013, a 14% decrease.

Type and quantity of coal used for power production will vary depending upon mining, combustion and treatment of post-combustion coal using gas technologies, such as scrubbing, storage or subsequent processing. Furthermore, geographical region of mining, transportation and utilization will also impact coal utilization.

Nonetheless coal will remain a dominant source of fossil fuel for global production of electricity for the foreseeable future.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

May 19, 2013

Phinix LLC

Copyright 2013. All rights Reserved by Phinix, LLC.

www.phinix.net    skdas@phinix.net

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