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The Physics Involved in Coal-Fired Generation of Electricity

  1. May 25, 2008 #1
    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.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 25, 2008 #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
    Last edited: May 25, 2008
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