The coal industry in the United States has been in a state of flux since the arrival of a cheaper alternative for energy production: natural gas. This leaves very few options for coal companies, but right now the most attractive one is exports. Peabody Energy  is one company hoping to make a big splash in the export market. Learn more about this opportunity in The Motley Fool's premium research report on Peabody, available here.

There is one sliver of hope for the domestic coal industry, though, and it's called coal gasification. This new type of facility is much more efficient than traditional coal plants and could allow coal to compete on both price and emissions standards with natural gas. Both Southern and Duke Energy are giving this new technology a spin, with facilities for each company in Mississippi and Indiana, respectively.

While the gains in efficiency and emissions can be a big help to these companies that were once so reliant on coal, there is one added benefit that could put these facilities over the top. The process of coal gasification strips out several pollutants, which can then be sold back for use as a feedstock for enhanced oil recovery, chemical production, or fertilizer.  


Check out the following video conversation, in which Fool.com contributor Tyler Crowe checks in with Joel South and Taylor Muckerman to discuss the potential of this new coal technology.

There are many different ways to play the energy sector, and The Motley Fool's analysts have uncovered an under-the-radar company that's dominating its industry. This company is a leading provider of equipment and components used in drilling and production operations and is poised to profit in a big way from it. To get the name and detailed analysis of this company that will prosper for years to come, check out the special free report: "The Only Energy Stock You'll Ever Need." Don't miss out on this limited-time offer and your opportunity to discover this company before the market does. Click here to access your report -- it's totally free.

The article 21st Century Coal: Can It Save the Industry? originally appeared on Fool.com.

Joel South, Taylor Muckerman, and Fool contributor Tyler Crowe have no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Southern and owns shares of Denbury Resources. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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