Based on its analysis of likely future trends in coal use and ongoing DOE coal programs, the committee observed that the use of coal for power generation is confronting an increasingly demanding set of requirements. Following many years of gradual improvement of pulverized coal-steam turbine baseload power systems, with limited add-ons for emissions control, there is a need for greatly enhanced technology for emission control, for improved efficiency, and for improvements in the overall economics of power generation. Similarly, during the time periods considered in this study it is probable that liquid and gaseous fuels manufactured from coal will be needed. Improvements in the cost and efficiency of manufacturing processes will depend on further advances in the chemistry and engineering related to coal use.
In light of the continuing needs for advances beyond the 2010 targets defined for the power systems and fuels programs (Chapter 2) and the goals defined in DOE's Strategic Plan (DOE, 1994a), the committee identified a critical role for DOE advanced research programs on coal. Such programs have the potential to exploit the extensive opportunities for improved coal technology while compensating for the decline in industrial and non-DOE government support for long-range research on coal. The optimum role for DOE differs from one advanced research area to another but is largely determined by technology needs and their degree of specificity to coal-based systems and by complementary research activities in industry and government organizations outside DOE. The following discussions of some major research areas address opportunities for DOE advanced research programs to contribute to the development of coal technologies. The research areas discussed are combustion and gasification, coal conversion and catalysis, and materials.
Research on oxidation of fuels to provide useful energy with acceptable emissions is the subject of a large international activity. Much current work relates to gas-phase reactions and to soot formation and oxidation (see, for example, The Combustion Institute, in press). However, coal combustion research falls outside these areas because of the large amount of char formed by the