Proposed Chicago energy facility plan calls for clean processes, environmental rejuvenation

In a bid to bring clean energy production to the city of Chicago, local leaders and green power advocates are pushing for the creation of a coal-gasification plant on the Southeast Side that will utilize a former steel working site. The proposed facility, tentatively named Chicago Clean Energy, is designed to be one of the most energy-efficient power plants that uses a coal-based production process.

Coal-gasification, according to a Department of Energy article, is different from combustion because it produces far less carbon dioxide emissions. It accomplishes this feat by utilizing steam and pressure to break down the coal and power the turbines. A filtering system removes impurities and burns them in an auxiliary turbine, and the steam this procedure creates is used to produce even more electricity.

"No one would object to the potential impact of those facilities," Hoyt Hudson, a project manager for Chicago Clean Energy, said in a press release. "When it comes to emissions of impurities, we will be held to an even higher standard."

The Chicago Clean Energy project will be governed by strict emissions guidelines set by both state of Illinois and the federal government. For example, the plan's carbon dioxide "recapture" technology will be able to reabsorb 85 percent of estimated burnoff. The approval process for the initiative has been ongoing for the past five years, as state law requires legislation to be written and passed in order to greenlight industrial energy developments.

The proposed building site, formerly operated by Chicago LTV Steel, will undergo an extensive clean-up process to remove contaminated soil and debris. In addition to providing the Chicago area with a source of clean energy, the project may spur ecological and economic revival in the area as well.

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