The Wall Street Journal visits a national lab near Pittsburgh where scientists look for cleaner methods of burning coal.
The National Energy Technology Laboratory was created in 1910 as part of the former Bureau of Mines, and hillside portals into mines once used for research dot the lab's 200-acre site. The lab, which also conducts research on natural gas and oil, has a $787 million budget for 2012, with $368 million of that going for coal research. The federal government funds the lab's budget, though it participates in joint projects with outside groups.
The role of the laboratory is to pursue higher-risk breakthrough technologies that companies are less inclined to fund -- including ways to capture CO2 emissions.
In one lab at the coal center, scientists are refining the process to capture the emissions. In one experiment, a thin stream of carbon dioxide bubbles through a tube and dissolves in a large flask containing a brown liquid fabricated in the lab. The so-called ionic liquid is one of many synthesized in the lab to try to improve the efficiency of CO2 absorption, says engineer David Luebke.
The Wall Street Journal
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