UO study: Cooling coal emissions could lead to cleaner air

University of Oregon

University of Oregon Physicist Russ Donnelly led a team that discovered how cooling coal plant emissions can reduce the amount of hazardous chemicals released into the air. 

An analysis by a team of University of Oregon physicists found that cooling the emissions from coal-fired power plants could significantly drop the levels of dangerous chemicals dispersed into the air.

The research — published in Physical Review E, a journal of the American Physical Society — is the work of a team led by UO physicist Russell J. Donnelly that was backed by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Also, a separate, unpublished economic analysis from UO researchers found that the cryogenic process would likely increase the cost of power and would require cooling machinery that can reach the size of a football stadium. But the equipment, according to Donnelly, isn't much more expensive than pollution control equipment now being used by power plants.

And those negatives would be further offset by a 38 percent drop in costs associated with health care and battling climate change.

"The cryogenic treatment of flue gasses from pulverized coal plants is possible, and I think affordable, especially with respect to the total societal costs of burning coal," Donnelly said in a UO news release Monday.

Read the complete University of Oregon report here.

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