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Clean Coal Task Force Continues Growth, Funds Nine More Projects

July 5, 2011

The Clean Coal Task Force (CCTF), upon its creation in 2007 by the Wyoming State Legislature, was charged with a tremendous responsibility:  To help secure Wyoming's financial future by preserving the value of coal, one of the state's most critical exports.

With a $2.5 million allocation at its inception, the CCTF went to work to first identify and then fund research projects that could lead to the development of technologies to reduce the environmental impact of coal-based electric generation in Wyoming and across the United States.

Success has followed.

In its first five years, the CCTF has assisted in distributing $31.2 million in appropriated funds while leveraging matching funds of $35.1 million and is supporting 42 projects through the Clean Coal Technology Fund, which serves to stimulate research to enhance and improve clean coal technologies, with an emphasis on the use of sub-bituminous coal at high elevations.

"The Clean Coal Task Force has done an excellent job of guiding the state's investment in advanced technologies to create a balanced program focused on broad aspects of reducing the carbon footprint of coal utilization," says Mark Northam, director of the School of Energy Resources at the University of Wyoming, which administers the fund. "The level of interest in this program has steadily risen, plus some of the technologies funded in earlier rounds are back on the table seeking funds to conduct scaled-up demonstration projects. Both are good signs of the viability and value of the program."

In its latest round of funding, reviewed last month by the Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Interim Committee, the CCTF endorsed nine projects covering research in the fields of carbon capture and sequestration, gasification technology, post-combustion methods, gas clean-up and coal-to-liquids conversion.

The approved projects will receive $8,769,713, the largest single annual funding in the history of the fund.

The largest allocation, $2,513,237, was awarded to Sustainable Energy Solutions to test a skid-scale Cryogenic Carbon Capture unit with several fuel types and under various operating conditions. The state funding was matched by Sustainable Energy Solutions, Jiaotong University in China and the Laramie-based Western Research Institute (WRI) for a project total of $5,026,474.

UW received the second largest award, $1,407,900, to use state-of-the-art, high-resolution imaging at various scales to model the interactions and fate of carbon dioxide (CO₂) in naturally fractured saline aquifers. Mohammad Piri, an assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, will lead the project. The Brazilian National Laboratory for Scientific Computing provided matching funds for a total of $2,815,834.

International collaboration and acceptance of foreign funds as cost share are an important part of reaching success; however, no Wyoming funds are spent outside of the U.S.

The other CCTF-endorsed projects for 2011:

  • A $1,205,596 award to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, matched by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for a total of $2,411,192, to address gasification gas clean-up, carbon capture and coal-to-natural gas technologies.
  • A $744,780 award to the University of Kentucky, with a $745,000 match from Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Kentucky for a total of $1,489,780, to study novel carbon capture technology for power generation using Wyoming coal.
  • A $731,984 award to Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., matched by the company for a total of $1,463,368, to focus on assessing the feasibility of sour pressure swing adsorption in a gasification process using Powder River Basin coal.
  • A $720,000 award to AmbreEnergy and the WRI, with a $740,000 match from both companies for a total of $1,460,000, to investigate the use of helical channel reactor technology to improve the conversion efficiency of syngas to liquid fuels and chemicals.
  • A $500,000 award to Thermosolv, LLC, and the WRI, matched by the WRI and AmbreEnergy for a total of $1 million, to develop and test a commercially viable approach to converting solid carbonaceous feedstock into high-value liquid fuel.
  • A $499,924 award to ARCHTECH, with a $500,000 match from the company for a total of $999,924, to address pilot-scale in situ coal biogasification with above-ground processing to produce methane.
  • A $446,292 award to the University of Utah, matched the DOE and the university for a total of $892,584, to advance commercial development of chemical looping with oxygen coupling with solid fuel to produce a pure CO₂ stream.

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