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UK Coal Authority in partnership with Cardiff School Of Engineering came with water treatment technology for former coal mines of South Wales.Communities in those areas were at risk because of acid water spillage in their river systems which put their lives at risk.Coal Authority was led by Dr Ian Watson and Dr Devin Sapsford led Cardiff School Of Engineering.The technology is removing Iron and other heavy metals in water.Due to the success of it will be piloted to other areas of UK facing similar challenges.
Which elements are associated with coal contamination in water ?
Is lead associated with coal contamination?
The diagram shows production and consumption figures for coal mined in the UK since 1945. The decline in total consumption shows that the demand for coal in the UK fell steadily since 1955.
For example, coking coal was used extensively for steel-making and its the decline in demand between 1955 and 1980 parallels the decline in the UK\'s steel industry.
Conversely, the demand for coal in electricity generation grew, albeit erratically, and peaked in the 1980s.
At first glance it appears that coal sales to the electricity generating market more than compensated for the decline in the coking coal and domestic markets. However, the fact that total UK consumption has exceeded UK production since the 1984-5 miners’ strike bears witness to a global change in coal economics.
The growth in size of bulk-transport ships and of surface-mining equipment resulted in coal being produced where surface mines work thick seams close to the surface, thousands of miles from potential markets. Consequently, coal ceased to be a high place-value resource.
Such coal can be transported to the UK for less cost than producing the UK\'s own coal from underground mines. The UK has been an importer of coal since 1970, but statistics suggest that the miners’ strike triggered an increasing reliance on imports.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the UK\'s coal producers became progressively dependent on power stations for their survival. However, the lucrative contracts offered to the power companies when the coal industry was privatized in 1994 were insufficient to prevent the UK\'s electricity generation industry from moving away from coal to natural gas.
This initiative, at the time dubbed the ‘Dash for Gas’, was triggered by a change in EU regulations, which for the first time allowed gas to be used to generate electricity. Consequently, the amount of coal used for UK electricity generation dropped from over 84 million tonnes in 1990 to less than 42 million tonnes in 1999. That reduced amount of coal was also increasingly supplied by surface mines in the UK and by imports, rather than by the more expensive underground-mined coal.
As a direct consequence of the switch to gas, the UK\'s underground-mined coal industry virtually closed down in the early 1990s. In 1984, there were 170 underground mines but by 1994 the rush to close down less profitable mines in the run up to privatization of the coal industry in that year helped to reduce this figure to just 17.
By the end of 2005, there were only seven major underground mines still operating Ironically, rationalization of the industry now means that the 9,000 workers still employed in it are twice as productive as those of the 1980s and 1990s.
The quantity of imported coal continues to grow and in 2001, for the first time, more coal was imported than produced in the UK.
In 2004 the UK imported about 50% of coal used here, mainly from Columbia and South Africa, together with some from Australia, Poland and the USA.
The low cost of bulk shipping, the quality of the coal and a competitive price clearly matter much more than the distance from the UK.
The short-term future of the UK\'s coal industry may ultimately be decided by its own government, which is committed to renewable sources of energy. New EU Directives aimed at reducing NOx , SO2 and CO2 emissions will force power companies to switch to low-sulphur imports and close older coal-fired power stations, further damaging the coal industry.
The technology needed to capture NOx and SO2 during coal burning does exist, but has yet to be deployed widely. However, the UK\'s coal industry may ultimately be saved by the need for a secure domestic fuel source, especially with nuclear power facing an uncertain future and North Sea gas production in decline.