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Published May 23, 2019
The University of Wyoming’s efforts to help assure the future of the state’s cornerstone coal industry have taken a step forward with the signing of an agreement aimed at developing a cleaner-burning and more efficient coal in the Powder River Basin.
Under the agreement with Clean Coal Technologies Inc. (CCTI), the company will invest $1 million, matched by $500,000 in state funding, to bring CCTI’s coal-beneficiation technology to market. The funding will go toward construction of a rotary absorber kiln suited to stabilizing the surface of treated Powder River Basin coal in a demonstration facility at the former Fort Union mine site near Gillette; laboratory and field studies by UW researchers to quantify the performance of the technology; and studies by UW engineers to set the stage for design of a commercial plant using the technology.
CCTI’s technology reduces the moisture in run-of-mine coal, leaving the mineral stable and safe to handle. Along with producing more energy than untreated coal, the refined product also produces fewer harmful emissions when burned, including carbon dioxide, sulfur and mercury.
“We are delighted to be associated with this first-of-a-kind and industry-leading technology,” says Richard Horner, director of special projects and emerging technology in UW’s School of Energy Resources. “We have validated that CCTI’s technology is effective and are honored that the company has placed its trust in our researchers to support the important next stage in bringing Pristine™ technology to market. The university is very pleased to support CCTI in establishing the technology commercially in the Powder River Basin.”
“Our partnership with the university and the state of Wyoming will ensure that the test facility will be ready to commence testing of coal and will help our company move to commercialization in an expedited manner,” CCTI CEO Robin Eves says. “This second-generation plant will include process and engineering enhancements that the university's simulated modeling study and experimental program advocated. We fully expect it will further increase the plant's performance and efficiency and will reduce the overall cost of a commercial unit. Furthermore, the university's work has informed and quantified the potential of manufacturing valuable byproducts as a consequence of the coal-beneficiation process.”
UW’s efforts on coal are multipronged: Researchers are looking for ways to make traditional uses of coal cleaner and more efficient, through carbon capture and storage and other technologies; and scientists are exploring ways to create new markets for coal through carbon engineering -- creating value-added products, such as carbon fiber, with a minimal or even negative carbon footprint.
Making coal a cleaner fuel source, and a valuable resource in new markets, would both preserve the state’s thermal coal industry and create a new industrial base for Wyoming.
In addition to verifying the performance of CCTI’s technology, the earlier work by UW researchers identified performance improvement areas that are being designed and incorporated into the next-stage field testing program at the Fort Union test facility.
UW’s School of Energy Resources is recognized globally as one of the world's leading research institutions in energy technology, particularly in the development of coal beneficiation and efforts to use the fuel more efficiently and to identify potentially profitable byproducts.
CCTI is a cleaner-energy technology company with headquarters in New York City, holding patented process technology and other intellectual property that converts raw coal into a cleaner-burning fuel. It previously operated a multimillion-dollar test facility at a coal-fired utility in Oklahoma.