FIGURE 1.8 Schematic showing the coal fuel cycle in United States, illustrating the flow paths and relative quantities of coal as it moves from reserves through the various operations—mining to processing (if applicable) to transport to utilization. The thickness of flow arrows reflects tonnages moved in 2005; similarly, the heights of the reserve and operations boxes reflect tonnage estimates for 2005 (Gt—gigatons; Mt—megatons); note the differing scales for reserves, operations, and flows. The ultimate stage, the distribution of products from the utilization stage, is not depicted. The processing losses box is dashed to reflect the great variability among preparation plants and the difficulty of quantifying losses. SOURCES: concepts and data from Fiscor (2005), NCC (2006), EIA (2006d); Gene Berry (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, personal communication, 2006).

emitted to air, land, and water. While the quantities of coal in Figure 1.8 represent the situation in 2005, the future picture could be quite different. For example, some scenarios described in Chapter 2 indicate a potential for substantial growth in the production of coal-derived liquid and gaseous fuel, requiring a transport infrastructure for distributing such products via pipelines.

Chapter 2 first considers the outlook for U.S. and world coal production and use to set the context for this report. The R&D activities associated with each stage in the coal fuel cycle are then discussed more fully in subsequent chapters:

  • The first stage of the coal fuel cycle is geological exploration to establish the resource base of coal reserves. Although current estimates of minable coal



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement