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How coal power stations work

Updated February 21, 2017

According to America's Power.org, coal power plants account for nearly 50 per cent of the electricity that is provided around the United States. The coal system involves a multiple step heating process that works just as hard keeping the air clean as it does provide power. The initial product into the production is coal---tons of it.

Burning

The coal is brought to the bottom of the plant into a burning room. Here, coal is coal lit and burnt to create large fires. As coal burns off, more is added to produce electricity. During peak hours, coal is constantly burnt, but during nonpeak hours, mostly at night, coal may not be burnt.

Water Tank

The fire created by the coal heats a large water tank. The water eventually boils and turns to steam. The steam created travels through an intricate piping system throughout the plant. The smoke and debris from the coal burning travels straight up the plant's smokestack.

Cleaning Coal

The smokestacks have built-in cleaning tools known as "scrubbers." The scrubbers help eliminate most of the harmful air pollutants and CO2 that are produced when coal is burnt off. The rest of the smoke is released into the air (i.e., the smoke seen when driving by a power plant).

Steam Power

The steam that travels through the pipes becomes high pressured as the pipes get smaller and smaller. That high pressured steam is shot out directly at a spinning turbine. The turbine is connected to a power generator using huge rods. As the generator spins, two internal magnets cross over wires to create electricity. The electricity leaves the generator and travels through power lines and out into the power grid.

References

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About the Author

Alan Donahue started writing professionally in 2003. He has been published in the Norwich Free Academy "Red & White," UNLV's "Rebel Yell" and on various websites. He is an expert on wrestling, movies and television. He placed second in the NFO Screenwriting Contest and received filmmaking awards from Manchester Community College and Norwich Free Academy. He currently attends Academy of Art University.