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Clean Coal?

WGBH - PBS, Teachers' Domain

This video and accompanying essay examine carbon capture and storage and clean-coal technology, providing statistics for overall annual U.S. consumption as well as average household usage. Turning solid coal into a clean-burning fuel gas (syngas) and capture and storage pros and cons are discussed.

Video length: 5:03 min.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

About Teaching the Guiding Principle
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About Teaching the Guiding Principle
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Global warming is "very likely" caused by human greenhouse gas emission
About Teaching Principle 6
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Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
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7.3 Environmental quality.
Humans transfer and transform energy from the environment into forms useful for human endeavors.
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4.1 Humans transfer and transform energy.
Humans transport energy from place to place.
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4.4 Humans transport energy.
Energy infrastructure has inertia.
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5.2 Energy infrastructure has inertia.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

The earth's climates have changed in the past, are currently changing, and are expected to change in the future, primarily due to changes in the amount of light reaching places on the earth and the composition of the atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuels in the last century has increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which has contributed to Earth's warming.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark
Increased knowledge of the properties of particular molecular structures helps in the design and synthesis of new materials for special purposes.
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Different ways of obtaining, transforming, and distributing energy have different environmental consequences.
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Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

About the Science

  • The video gives an overview of coal electricity generation, clean coal technology, and sequestering carbon dioxide.
  • Clean coal is an umbrella term used to describe technologies that may reduce CO2 emissions (e.g. sequestration, coal gasification, scrubbers).
  • Provides statistics for overall annual U.S. coal consumption as well as average household usage, and then explains the need for developing a cleaner way to convert coal into electricity.
  • While promising, most applications of clean coal technology are still not ready for implementation.
  • Comments from expert scientist: It is a great idea to talk about the pros and cons of the coal industry and possible changes to technology both in terms of combustion technology and carbon capture. The Frontline documentary is a good place to start but I do not think the "background essay" is adequate.

About the Pedagogy

  • The video is accompanied by a background essay and discussion questions.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The video has closed-captioned text that can be turned on/off.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

The U.S. Department of Energy's Carbon Sequestration program website can be accessed here: http://fossil.energy.gov/programs/sequestration/index.html

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