Polar Bears in the Hot Tub – Is Coal the Problem? Chapter 3

Many questions have been asked in Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.
Since questions are essential for learning, lets continue asking.

What if burning the carbon in coal is not a problem for the bears? Or Us?
What happens to the stack gas from a coal fired power plant?
Why, in 1980, after 100 years of burning coal, was earth’s atmosphere no warmer?
Why was the Arctic Ice not affected for those 100 years?
What if, after all the research, it is really not about us?

Polar bears deceive us; so does coal.
Polar Bears are White! We believe this.
Their fur, which we see, is indeed white.
Under the fur is a black skin and a very black bear.

We see coal, and it is black.
Smoke from coal power plants is black; we believe it.
There are many photos of coal smoke, close to 90% show belching black smoke from the tall chimneys.Coal Stacks
Yet, there is probably not one smoking stack to be found in the entire United States.

Coal, we are told, when burned, causes major problems,
Serious pollution – which causes thousands of early deaths.
Rising CO2 levels
– which causes Global Warming
– which causes melting ice
– which raises sea levels
– which puts 40 million people at risk of flooding.

Power plant

Coal Burning plant

– which raises acid levels in lakes and oceans
– which destroys coral reefs and marine life.

Actually there are even more questions and answers to coal combustion.
We are being deceived very badly by ‘science’ and the media.
Can coal be burned without these problems?
We have already realized that coal can be burned without the black smoke.
It is happening the USA, and black smoke can also be eliminated from stacks in India and China.

We have demonstrated over a large area that burning coal need not endanger lakes.
If we take time to ask, we can learn much more about the problems and solutions.

Coal, which is largely carbon, unfortunately, is not entirely carbon.
There are sulfur and nitrogen compounds demanding our attention.
There are also organic compounds containing hydrogen, oxygen and more.
In short, coal is a mess requiring considerable thought before burning it or banning it.

The carbon in coal, plus air (O2 and N2 ) => CO2 plus nitrogen, but no extra water vapor.
The density of coal stack gas is 1.09 times as dense as air and it settles to the ground.
It can rise if wet coal is burned, but this is not economical so coal is dried.
It can also rise while hotter than air by about 120 degrees F but cools quickly and descends.

Black smoke was a problem but no longer. Combustion is controlled much better now.
The smoking stack is history in our USA, surviving only in photo archives.
Precise control of excess air, and burners eliminates the smoke and improves efficiency.
There are electrostatic precipitators to remove smaller smoke particles and reduce haze.
We are being deceived very badly by ‘science’ and the media.

The stacks are 800 to 1200 feet high and very expensive.
Investors do not spend huge amounts of money if it is not required.
Yes, the stack gas does indeed sink to the ground and tall stacks are necessary to disperse it.
No one wants to breath stack gas with 200,000 ppm CO2 but little oxygen.
The stacks are still necessary for us, not for plants or lakes.
There are many computer programs to calculate how tall a stack must be.
Taller stacks mean lower concentration on the ground near the plant.
Government rules specify the maximum downwind concentration and thus height.
Flowing along the ground, dispersed CO2 is absorbed by trees, plants and water.

Is ground level CO2 bad for our planet? (without SO2 and NOx )
No and it is actually helpful.
Plants at the bottom of the food chain require CO2.
All sea food and coral depend on CO2.
Agronomists have found with CO2 at 1500 ppm plants grow faster and with less water.
There are coal burning plants near cities and they coexist quite well;
trees in the city are green and residents are not dying at high rates.

Is there still something wrong with burning coal? YES!!
Sulfur, Nitrogen and organic compounds are serious and dangerous pollutants.
Sulfur reacts with oxygen to form SO2 and SO3, which with water, form sulfuric acids.
Nitrogen reacts with oxygen to form NO2, NO3 etc; which with water form nitric acids.
They are very strong acids that dissolve in water and destroy lakes and affect oceans.

Has science solved this problem?
Yes! We know how and have done it for many years.
We in the United States have already corrected this problem for the New England States!

Lakes in our New England area were turning acidic and dying from “acid rain” during the 60’s.The problem was traced to sulfur and nitrogen in coal used in power plants in Ohio and PA.
Scrubbers were developed and installed to remove the acid gases from coal plant stack gas.
Calcium hydroxide reacts with the gases to form gypsum for wall board manufacture.
Today, over 50% of gypsum wallboard used in construction is obtained from coal plants.
And, the lakes of New England have recovered; actually surprisingly quickly.
Some CO2 is also removed but removal is not necessary to create ‘clean’ exhaust gas free of strong acids, or to protect the lakes and rivers.
These lakes, becoming acidic, then recovering, proves that stack gas from coal plants does indeed settle to the ground. The amount dispersing upward to mix with air did not raise either CO2 or temperature for 100 years of the industrial revolution which is further proof of the small effect CO2 has on temperature or melting ice.
Is it possible the lakes recovered so quickly because of additional CO2 from the power plants?

A further problem may exist from sulfuric acid absorbed in sea water.
High School Chemistry 101:
SO3 + H2O => H2SO4 , Sulfuric Acid; oceans have lots of water to dissolve the acid.
H2SO4 + NaCl => Na2SO4 + HCl; Ocean water has lots of Sodium Chloride.
HCl, Hydrochloric Acid, is a strong acid with unusual properties.
HCl + O2 => H20 + Cl2 Oceans have sufficient oxygen for this reaction to form Chlorine.
Sulfur from burning sulfur in fuels and also from underwater thermal vents => Chlorine.

Chlorine is a very powerful bleach!
It kills microorganisms and bacteria and will bleach many things.
Chlorine is added to our municipal water to kill bacteria and provide safe drinking water.
Is this the cause of the bleached and dying coral reefs?
One Study by RW Macdonald reports that sea water will react with 1.5 mg chlorine per liter.
link; dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Reactions of chlorine and coral could be and should be studied.
We do not need more reports verifying that coral is being affected by something.
Removing sulfur and nitrogen oxides from fuels should reduce the problem.
Obviously, sulfur and sulfides from underwater hydrothermal vents cannot be controlled.
Complete removal of Chlorine will be impossible but likely acceptable.

Organic compounds are converted to CO2 and water at high flame temperatures.
CO2 and water vapor are not be a problem; design of boiler fireboxes might be.
Krugler studied two incinerators at a Chemical Plant in California that were not effective.
Changing the foul gas inlet and raising the temperature eliminated the problem. Krugler’s data
was used by the local Air Pollution Control District to write their AP-42 manual.

This is what we have so far and into the future.

Chapter 1 Arctic Ocean – CO2 is not the Polar Bear’s Hot Tub villain.
Chapter 2 Natural Gas – Cheap energy and necessary standby energy;
and a zillion “thermals” boosting GHG’s ever higher.
Chapter 3 Coal. It is not bad if it is only coal.
Or if the acid gasses are removed.


Chapter 4 – What about Diesel and other liquid fuels?
Chapter 5 Greenlands black ice and air circulation cells
Chapter 6 Antarctica – No Polar Bears but lots of Ice and Penguins,
and two melting glaciers.

Stay Tuned – Please email me if you have additional ideas and information on this subject.


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