Release Date: November 28, 2000
|Converting Coal Wastes to Clean Energy
DOE to Scale Up 3 Projects That Upgrade Coal Fines, Wastes
PITTSBURGH, PA - Three new technologies that can help the nation's coal industry turn waste into energy are now ready for scale up, the U.S. Department of Energy said today.
Each of the three recover carbon-rich materials that in the past have been discarded during coal mining and cleaning operations. Using innovative approaches, the technologies remove unwanted water and other impurities and upgrade the waste materials into clean-burning fuels for power plants.
The three were first selected for smaller-scale research in August 1998 as part of the Energy Department's Fossil Energy "solid fuels and feedstocks" program. Now, after the initial research has continued to show promise, the department has decided to help fund further testing of the technologies at "proof of concept" scales in commercial settings. At these scales, the developers will be able to assess the technical and economic merits of the processes at sizes large enough to determine whether further commercial development is warranted.
The three projects will be carried out by:
As much as 2 to 3 billion tons of coal fines lie in waste impoundments at mines and washing plants around the country. Each year, another 30 million tons of coal mined in the United States is discarded into these waste ponds. If an economical way can be found to extract this currently wasted energy resource, coal operators could turn many of these unsightly and environmentally troublesome disposal sites into new sources of fuel for today's power plants.
The three projects will be managed by the Energy Department's National Energy Technology Laboratory, the government's lead fossil energy research facility.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, will test two fine-coal dewatering technologies: 1) novel, low-cost reagents that increase process kinetics in mechanical dewatering processes resulting in significantly lower product moisture, and 2) an innovative centrifugal filter that reduces cake moisture while improving coal recoveries. The first will be tested in two "proof of concept" plants: one at an existing coal preparation plant to help recover fine coal that is currently being discarded, the other at a pond reclamation project. The centrifugal filtration technology developed in Phase I will be scaled up to pilot-plant level and will be used to conduct on-site testing at various industrial locations. The technologies will be tested at plants operated by CONSOL Energy, Red River Coal Co., and Beard Technology. The proposed technology fills a significant industry need for reducing the high measure of moisture retained in the fine coal fraction that causes numerous materials handling problems and limits the use of many fine-coal cleaning technologies.
Total project cost: $6.9 million; DOE share: $950,000; participant share: $6.03 million;
Project duration: 3 years.
University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, will test its Fuel Float™ technology in a "proof-of-concept" plant in an effort to recover unburned carbon from fly ash settling ponds at the Western Kentucky Energy's 521-MW Coleman Plant in Hawesville, KY. The technology uses hydraulic classification to first split the feed material into coarse and fine size fractions. The fractions are then treated separately using spiral concentrators and froth flotation to recover carbon and produce low-carbon, fly-ash by-products. The "proof of concept" plant will operate at feed rates of 2 to 5 tons/hour, and will produce 300 tons of a concentrated carbon product that will be combined with the Coleman Plant's regular feed coal in a 5:95 ratio for a full-scale, 24-hour test burn. Air emissions and changes in the fuel will be monitored during the test burn. This technology directly addresses high levels of unburned carbon in fly ash brought about with the expanded use of low-NOx burners and the need to reduce and reclaim fly ash waste ponds.
Total project cost: $1.7 million; DOE share: $850,000; participant share: $850,000
Project duration: 3 years.
CQ Inc., Homer City, PA, will test a coal-sawdust fuel mixture made utilizing the GranuFlow Process, a NETL-developed technology that separates and dewaters coal fines from coal-water slurries. Coal from a commercial fine-coal slurry pond, fuel-production facility operated by the company and sawdust from local paper mills and furniture-production outlets will be used. Initially, continuous pilot-scale runs of the technology will be conducted at NETL's facility in Pittsburgh to verify operating conditions. Proof-of-concept testing will then be conducted at the CQ Inc facility in Ginger Hill, PA, to further demonstrate the technology and produce 50 tons of a bituminous waste coal-sawdust fuel that will later be tested in a commercial-scale pulverizer to determine the fuel's suitability for use in the pulverized coal market. This project focuses on alleviating fuel blending and handling problems associated with co-firing biomass with coal, considered to be an important method for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants from power plants.
Total project cost: $300,000; DOE share $150,000; participant share: $150,000
Project duration: 2 years.
|Contact: David Anna, DOE/NETL, 412-386-4646|