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State Seeks Proposals for Coal Innovation


June 12, 2012 — It's getting a new name and an expanded mission, but a Wyoming task force is once again looking for scientific proposals aimed at advancing technologies to use coal in innovative ways.

Wyoming's Clean Coal Task Force, which on July 1 will become the Advanced Conversion Technologies Task Force, has issued a request for proposals for research on low-emissions and other advanced coal technologies.

The task force directs the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources in administering the state's Clean Coal Technology Research Account which, on July 1, will be renamed the Advanced Conversion Technology Research Account. The name changes were made by the 2012 Wyoming State Legislature, reflecting the program's broadening scope to include conversion of other minerals besides coal into value-added fuels and products. At the same time, the 2012 Legislature appropriated $10 million for a research program dedicated to coal conversion technologies, and the new request for proposals focuses on coal.

Proposals are due July 13. Funds for successful proposals will become available Sept. 15, following selection by the task force and approval by the Legislature's Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Interim Committee later this summer.

"Conventional coal gasification technology puts Wyoming coal at a disadvantage due to the high moisture content of Wyoming's sub-bituminous coal and the region's high altitude," says Mark Northam, director of the School of Energy Resources. "Research supported by the Advanced Conversion Technology Task Force addresses these technological issues so that we can find ways to diversify uses for Wyoming coal."

In its first five years, the task force assisted in distributing $31.2 million in appropriated funds while leveraging matching funds of $35.1 million - supporting 42 research projects. Topics have included carbon capture and sequestration, gasification technology, post-combustion methods, gas cleanup and coal-to-liquids conversion - particularly using sub-bituminous coal at high elevations.

Those topics remain eligible for funding consideration, along with research on the economic, regulatory and financial barriers to constructing and operating coal conversion facilities in Wyoming.

Commercially successful deployment of these technologies is the program's ultimate goal and will be a primary factor in funding decisions, Northam says.

"The program is still in the early stages, with the first two rounds of funded projects wrapping up this year," he says. "Several of these projects have obtained patents and have demonstrated their technology at commercial facilities in Wyoming. We anticipate seeing more commercial successes as the remaining projects near completion."

Proposers may request between $100,000 and $3 million in program funding, to be matched dollar for dollar by outside funds. All funded projects are to be completed by Feb. 29, 2016.

For more on the advanced coal technologies research, www.uwyo.edu/ser/clean-coal/clean-coal-rfp.html.

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