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Clean Coal?

WGBH - PBS, Teachers' Domain

This video and accompanying essay examine ways to reduce the environmental impact of burning coal. Two technologies are discussed: turning solid coal into a clean-burning fuel gas (syngas), and capture and storage of CO2.

Video length: 5:03 min.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas
High School: 4 Disciplinary Core Ideas

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. [Note that coal consumption has been reduced nationwide since this video was produced.]
  • 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

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 3

MS-ESS2.D1:Weather and climate are influenced by interactions involving sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things. These interactions vary with latitude, altitude, and local and regional geography, all of which can affect oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns.

MS-ESS3.A1:Humans depend on Earth’s land, ocean, atmosphere, and biosphere for many different resources. Minerals, fresh water, and biosphere resources are limited, and many are not renewable or replaceable over human lifetimes. These resources are distributed unevenly around the planet as a result of past geologic processes.

MS-ESS3.D1:Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 4

HS-ESS2.D3:Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate.

HS-ESS3.A1:Resource availability has guided the development of human society.

HS-ESS3.A2:All forms of energy production and other resource extraction have associated economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical costs and risks as well as benefits. New technologies and social regulations can change the balance of these factors.

HS-ESS3.D1:Though the magnitudes of human impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are human abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts.

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