The Physics Involved in Coal-Fired Generation of Electricity

In summary, the speaker is new to a forum and is working on a self-taught course on physics. They have been given a research topic on coal-fired generation of electricity and are struggling with questions 1 and 3, which involve the physics and economic viability of the process. They are able to answer question 2 on the advantages and disadvantages. They are also wondering if the answers for tidal energy would be similar to those for coal-fired generation, as both involve conversion of energy. The law of conservation of energy sets an upper limit on the power a plant can supply, but the efficiency of thermal power plants and Carnot engines also play a role. The speaker is advised to refer to the Wikipedia page on fossil fuel power plants
  • #1
troubleinphys
4
0
Hi, I'm new to this forum. I'm doing a self-taught course on physics and I've been given a research topic of coal-fired generation of electricity. I'm supposed to answer the following questions:

1. An explanation of the physics involved in the energy production, including the application of the law of conservation of energy

2. Two advantages and two disadvantages of the method of production

3. An analysis of the economic viability of the process.

I'm sure I can answer number 2 with no problem, however, questions 1 and 3 are difficult to find. I'm supposed to use the Internet to answer these questions, but my search engine is not giving me any relevant information on this topic in regards to physics. There was another part to this question where it asked the same questions in regards to tidal energy. I was wondering if the answers for tidal energy, is similar to the answers I would be getting for coal-fired generation of electricity? From what I've read about coal, the ending seems similar to the reuse of kinetic energy that tidal waves use. But I'm not too sure. If someone could help me on this, that would be great! Thanks.
 
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  • #2
Rather than stating 'reuse' of kinetic energy, use the words, 'conversion of the kinetic energy of tidal waves to electrical energy'. The same things happen with coal. Here, we convert the chemical energy of the Coal to electrical energy.

The law of conservation of energy, puts an upper limit on the amount of power a plant can supply depending on the coal fed. However, the efficiency of thermal power plants isn't high enough for the limit to be significant. What is more important however, is the efficiency of a Carnot engine, which imposes a limit on the efficiency of the working machine.

This might help you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossil_fuel_power_plant
 
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  • #3


Hello and welcome to the forum! I am happy to help you with your research topic on coal-fired generation of electricity.

1. Physics involved in energy production:

Coal-fired generation of electricity involves the conversion of thermal energy from burning coal into electrical energy. This process follows the law of conservation of energy, which states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed from one form to another.

The first step in the process is the combustion of coal, which produces heat energy. This heat energy is then used to heat water in a boiler, converting it into steam. The steam then moves through a turbine, causing it to rotate and produce mechanical energy. This mechanical energy is then converted into electrical energy by a generator.

The law of conservation of energy can be seen in this process as the energy is transformed from chemical energy in coal to thermal energy, then mechanical energy, and finally electrical energy. This conversion process is not 100% efficient, meaning that some energy is lost in the form of heat and friction. However, the overall energy input will always equal the energy output.

2. Advantages and disadvantages of coal-fired generation:

Advantages:
- Coal is a relatively inexpensive and abundant source of energy.
- Coal-fired power plants can be built in almost any location, making it a flexible option for energy production.

Disadvantages:
- Burning coal releases harmful pollutants into the air, contributing to air pollution and climate change.
- Coal mining can have negative environmental impacts, such as deforestation and water pollution.

3. Economic viability of the process:

The economic viability of coal-fired generation depends on various factors, including the cost of coal, equipment, and maintenance, as well as the cost of complying with environmental regulations. In recent years, the cost of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, has decreased, making them more competitive with coal-fired generation. Additionally, the cost of mitigating the negative environmental impacts of coal-fired generation, such as carbon emissions, can add to the overall cost of the process.

In conclusion, the physics involved in coal-fired generation of electricity follows the law of conservation of energy, and while it has advantages such as low cost and flexibility, it also has significant disadvantages and economic considerations. The answers for tidal energy may be similar, as both involve the conversion of energy from one form to another. However, the specific physics and economic considerations may differ. I would recommend researching each topic separately to get a better understanding of the differences. I hope this helps!
 

1. What is coal-fired generation of electricity?

Coal-fired generation of electricity is a process in which coal is burned to heat water and produce steam, which then turns a turbine and generates electricity. This has been a common method of electricity generation for many years, but it is now facing criticism due to its negative environmental impact.

2. How does coal burning produce electricity?

Coal is a fossil fuel that contains energy in the form of chemical bonds. When it is burned, the chemical energy is released as heat, which is then used to heat water and create steam. The steam then turns a turbine, which is connected to a generator, and produces electricity.

3. What are the environmental impacts of coal-fired electricity generation?

Burning coal produces large amounts of carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. It also releases other pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter, which can have negative effects on human health and the environment.

4. Is coal-fired electricity generation still a commonly used method?

Yes, coal-fired generation of electricity is still a major source of energy in many countries, including the United States, China, and India. However, there is a growing shift towards using renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.

5. Are there any alternatives to coal-fired electricity generation?

Yes, there are several alternatives to coal-fired electricity generation. These include renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydro power, as well as nuclear power. These alternatives have a lower environmental impact and are becoming increasingly cost-effective.

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