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OWOE - Coal Power - How do coal power plants generate electricity?
  Figure 1 - Coal-fired Power Plant Schematic (Kentucky Geological Survey)
 
Figure 1 - Coal-fired Power Plant Schematic (Kentucky Geological Survey)
 
How do coal power plants generate electricity?

A coal-fired power plant generates electricity similar to most power plants but with coal as the source of heat to boil the water. To burn coal it must first be pulverized to a fine dust that is blown into the boiler and ignited. Steam from the boiler turns the blades of the steam turbine, which then rotates the turbine shaft and runs the electric generator. Since most coal has a relatively low energy content, a large amount of coal must be burned, leading to a large amount of non-combustible by-products, called ash, that must be disposed of. The lighter particles that are carried by the boiler exhaust are called "fly ash" and must be removed from the exhaust before it can enter the atmosphere. The heavier particles fall to the bottom of the boiler and are called "bottom ash" which is removed as a granular solid.


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