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Can waste from coal impoundments reduce industrial carbon emissions?

Dawid Hanak's picture
Associate Professor in Energy and Process Engineering Cranfield University

I'm a climate warrior who believes that achieving our climate commitments requires immediate action. We can do this by deploying green energy technologies and building world-leading engineering...

  • Member since 2020
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  • Jun 23, 2021

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In 2019, there were 7.7 billion people on Earth.

In that year alone, we consumed almost 8.3 gigatonnes of coal.

That’s equivalent to 42 million Antarctic blue whales, the largest animal on the planet!

We used this coal to produce approximately 10,000 TWh of electricity, 1.9 Gt of steel and 4.1 Gt of cement.

But what is the most disturbing fact?

The waste from coal production corresponds to up to 40% of the total amount of material extracted.

There is about 30 bn tonnes of coal fines and tailings that can be repurposed, avoiding the need to open new coal mines.

Unfortunately, we cannot immediately switch to a “no-coal” future, which is the goal we ALL work towards.

But we can take small steps to increase material efficiency and reduce our CO2 emissions.

Have a look at the opportunity for CO2 savings I worked out based on the process and data supplied by my industrial partner.


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