Issued on April 16, 1998
Funds University Coal Grants, Selects
Ideas For "Vision 21," Greenhouse Gas Reduction and Coal Science
Secretary of Energy Federico Peņa announced today
that 16 university coal research projects will share nearly $2.74 million in federal
funds, and an additional $663,788 from private sector sources, in a program that combines
science education for students with research that can benefit the nation's energy future.
The 16 projects, selected in a national competition run by
the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy, will bring together teachers and
students in research teams at 17 colleges and universities in 18 states. The
professor-student teams will explore fundamental coal and environmental science and
engineering concepts. Many of this year's winning projects will play a particularly
important role in supporting the department's coal-based "Vision 21 EnergyPlex"
concept -- a long-range goal for futuristic, ultra-clean energy plants that could be
customized to co-produce electric power, fuels, chemicals and other high value products
from coal. A key goal of the "Vision 21" concept is the near-zero release of
emissions -- including greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide -- by the year 2015.
The University Coal Research Program began in 1979 as an
Energy Department initiative to encourage college-level science and engineering students
to team with professors in exploratory coal research. Since then, nearly 1290 students
have been part of the program and have gone on to receive science or engineering degrees.
"The University Coal Research Program is now approaching
two decades of model federal/academic partnering and continues to train future scientists
as it advances the science of clean energy," Peņa said. "Several innovative
concepts conceived in this program are now commercial successes. Equally important, this
program has trained a new generation of scientists and engineers with valuable hands-on
research experience in an academic environment. We approach the new millennium with
stronger energy industries nurtured by the technical concepts and experienced graduates
that have emerged from this investment in science and education."
The 16 winning proposals were selected from 64 applications
that were judged by a peer review team of 44 academic, industrial and government coal
experts. Actual grant awards are expected to be in place by July.
This year's competition allocated nearly $2.4 million for
nine projects in five research areas that support the "Vision 21" concept.
Another seven projects will receive grants of up to $50,000
each for innovative concepts that offer prospects for research breakthroughs. The five
areas that focus on "Vision 21" technologies include these projects:
Mercury detection and control has become
especially important since mercury was included in the list of hazardous air pollutants in
the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. Chemical processes used to reduce mercury levels and
the effectiveness of mercury removal technologies are highly dependent on the type of
mercury present in flue gas streams. To study these processes:
- University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA,
will receive $200,000 from DOE and will contribute an additional $160,931 to investigate
the chemistry and physics involved when mercury adheres to carbon-containing materials.
Results are expected to provide a better understanding of how mercury can be captured and
removed from coal-fired combustion units. The lead research professor is Radisav Vidic.
- Iowa State University in
Ames, IA, teaming with the University of North Dakota and the University of
Maryland-Eastern Shore, will receive a $400,000 grant for a second mercury capture
project. The universities will provide an additional $71,200. Research will investigate
how mercury interacts with fly ash in post-combustion flue-gas conditions.The lead
research professor is Robert C. Brown.
Novel catalysts for advanced diesel fuels is
a key research area because renewed interest in cleaner, higher performance diesel fuels
has been prompted by the likelihood that light trucks, vans and sport/utility vehicles
(which now account for over 50percent of the market) will be powered increasingly by
diesel engines. Research will be conducted by:
- Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, will
receive an award of $199,964 to investigate the physical and chemical process for
producing premium diesel fuels. The lead research professor is Kamil Klier.
- University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM,
will receive $400,000 to team with Texas A&M and Brigham Young University to develop
novel catalysts that are durable and effective for converting coal-derived synthesis gas
to clean diesel fuels. The lead research professor is Abhaya Datye.
Advanced air separation technologies are of
interest since the need for lower-cost oxygen production is a key element of future
integrated gasification combined cycle systems that, in turn, are ideal for coproduction
processes in the "Vision 21" concept. Two universities were selected to
investigate methods for developing these advanced air separation technologies:
- The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI,
will receive $200,000 to develop new and improved catalysts for producing oxygen. The
University of Michigan is contributing $20,000. The lead research professor is Ralph T.
- The University of New Mexico in Albuquerque,
NM, will be awarded $190,406 to investigate the fundamental and practical aspects of
fabricating membranes on porous ceramic supports for use in oxygen separation. The lead
research professor is Timothy L. Ward.
Carbon dioxide capture and sequestration is
a key research topic because future, advanced power generation systems, such as
"Vision 21," may incorporate advanced concepts to capture and dispose of carbon
dioxide (CO2) emissions. Two universities were selected for this area:
- The University of Colorado in Boulder, CO,
will receive a $200,000 grant to study the synthesis and modification of zeolite
membranes, continuous layers of intergrown zeolite crystals on a porous support. These
membranes have the potential to separate mixtures of molecules based on their size, shape,
and adsorption strength. Researchers will synthesize and modify temperature- and
corrosion-resistant membranes and evaluate their performance for separating CO2
from the flue gas of coal-fired power plants. The University of Colorado is contributing
$66,613. The lead research professor is Richard Noble.
- Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ, will
receive $199,697 from DOE and contribute an additional $169,528 to identify key mechanisms
for engineering improved materials and processes for CO2 disposal. The lead
research professor is Michael J. McKelvy.
Advanced diagnostics and modeling techniques for
converting coal-derived gas into liquid fuels is of interest because future
"Vision 21" plants may co-produce liquid fuels in addition to electricity. This
research area focuses on converting coal-derived synthesis gas to hydrocarbon fuels in a
slurry reaction vessel using the Fischer-Tropsch process. This approach is potentially a
lower-cost route to producing liquids from coal. One award was made in this area:
- The University of Akron in Akron, OH, will
receive $399,931. The university will team with Illinois Institute of Technology and two
industrial partners, Energy International and UOP (formerly known as Universal Oil
Products) from Des Plaines, IL, to develop a design model for operating Fischer-Tropsch
Slurry Bubble Column Reactors. The university and its partners will add $142,666 to the
project. The lead research professor is Isaac K. Gamwo.
The "innovative concepts" section of the program
sought unique ways to increase power plant energy efficiency and address environmental
problems. Six of the universities will receive $50,000 for this research. One will receive
just under $50,000, as indicated below:
- Brigham Young University in Provo, UT, will
investigate a two-color laser light extinction process and assess its
accuracy for developing a better monitoring and control method for fine particulate matter
(PM 2.5). The lead research professor is Dale R. Tree.
- Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, will
examine materials that can withstand high temperatures and corrosive environments. Lehigh
University is contributing $15,497. The lead research professor is Arnold Marder.
- University of Colorado in Boulder, CO, will
examine ways to remove contaminants from fuel cells at high temperatures. The lead
research professor is Alan Weimer.
- Hampton University in Hampton, VA, will
investigate ways to maintain durable iron-based Fischer-Tropsch catalysts in slurries used
for processes that convert coal-derived gases into liquid fuels and chemicals. The lead
research professor is K. Jothimurugesan.
- State University of New York at Buffalo will
develop computational tools to predict the thermodynamic properties of ammonia, water, and
CO2 mixtures at high temperatures in a project that could lead to novel cycles
for advanced electric power generation. The lead research professor is Ashish Gupta.
- Brown University in Providence, RI, will
apply a solvent swelling technique to enhance the separation of carbon-containing
particles and reduce the environmental impact of ash formation and sulfur emissions from
coal-fired plants. Brown University is contributing $5,000. The lead research professor is
Joseph M. Calo.
- The University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY,
will explore an innovative technique for disposing of gypsum and pyrite wastes. The
proposed research will use a thermochemical process to produce lime, iron and sulfur from
the gypsum and pyrite that are otherwise discarded by coal plants. DOE is awarding the
University of Kentucky $49,925 and the university is contributing $12,353. The lead
research professor is Daniel Tao.
-End of TechLine-
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