The modern technology used for burning coal to generate electricity has evolved over a period of more than a century and until awareness grew of the environmental damage coal burning could produce, the coal-fired power station developed in a single direction.
The basic principle underlying this type of power station is to burn coal in air and capture the heat released to raise steam for driving a steam turbine. The rotation of this steam turbine, in turn, drives a generator; the net result is electricity.
The traditional coal-fired power plant comprises two basic components. The first component is a furnace boiler designed to burn the coal and capture the heat energy released using a system of circulating water and steam. The second part of the system is a steam turbine generator which
converts the heat energy captured by the steam into electrical energy. In other words, chemical energy held within the coal is first translated into heat energy and then into mechanical energy, and finally into electrical energy. Modern plants also include additional units to remove dust and acid emissions from the flue gases before they are released into the atmosphere.
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