Carbon Dioxide Emission Factors for U.S. Coal by Origin and Destination

Environ Sci Technol. 2010 Apr 1;44(7):2709-14. doi: 10.1021/es9027259.


This paper describes a method that uses published data to calculate locally robust CO(2) emission factors for U.S. coal. The method is demonstrated by calculating CO(2) emission factors by coal origin (223 counties, in 1999) and destination (479 power plants, in 2005). Locally robust CO(2) emission factors should improve the accuracy and verification of greenhouse gas emission measurements from individual coal-fired power plants. Based largely on the county origin, average emission factors for U.S. lignite, subbituminous, bituminous, and anthracite coal produced during 1999 were 92.97, 91.97, 88.20, and 98.91 kg CO(2)/GJ(gross), respectively. However, greater variation is observed within these rank classes than between them, which limits the reliability of CO(2) emission factors specified by coal rank. Emission factors calculated by destination (power plant) showed greater variation than those listed in the Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database (eGRID), which exhibit an unlikely uniformity that is inconsistent with the natural variation of CO(2) emission factors for U.S. coal.

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis*
  • Coal / analysis*
  • Sulfur / analysis
  • Transportation
  • Uncertainty
  • United States


  • Coal
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Sulfur