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U.S. Energy Secretary Appoints UW Professor to National Coal Council

October 30, 2014
man holding large test tube in lab
UW Professor Maohong Fan has been appointed to the National Coal Council. (UW Photo)

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has appointed a University of Wyoming professor to serve as a member of the National Coal Council, a federal advisory group that provides recommendations and guidance on policy issues pertaining to coal.

Maohong Fan, UW School of Energy Resources professor in the College of Engineering and Applied Science’s Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, received the appointment this month.

“I am appointing you to represent the viewpoints of universities with curricula in chemical engineering, as applied to energy production and environmental protection,” Moniz wrote to Fan. “In the coming months, the work of the council will be extremely important to the nation; I am certain you will find your association with this organization both challenging and productive.”

The National Coal Council is a private, nonprofit advisory body chartered by the U.S. secretary of energy in 1984 under the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Council members reflect diverse interests, including business, industry and academia.

Fan, who has been at UW since 2008, leads UW’s research cluster on energy conversion technologies, including conversion of coal to value-added fuels and chemicals such as diesel, gasoline and ethylene glycol. Most recently, he received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for a project aimed at converting Wyoming’s Powder River Basin coal into synthesis gas that can be used in chemical production.

“I am delighted to receive this appointment to help provide the secretary of energy with information and recommendations related to coal and the coal industry,” Fan says. “Finding uses for coal in a carbon-constrained future is important for Wyoming and the nation, and I intend to work diligently to advance technologies to make that possible.”

UW President Dick McGinity says Fan’s appointment illustrates the university’s leadership in energy conversion, one of the first four research clusters that are part of UW’s Tier-1 Engineering Initiative.

“The work of Dr. Fan and his colleagues in this area shows UW’s commitment to research that has relevance and impact on the Wyoming economy, while seeking solutions for the world’s energy challenges,” McGinity says. “It’s wonderful to see that he will have a voice in advising the nation’s top energy official on key issues concerning coal.”

Fan has led and worked on many projects in the areas of chemical production, clean energy production and environmental protection, supported by various domestic and international funding agencies. His work has helped chemical, environmental and energy companies overcome technical challenges. He has published more than 175 refereed books, book chapters and papers in various chemical and environmental engineering, energy and chemistry journals.

Fan holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Osaka University (2003), a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Iowa State University (2000), and a Ph.D. in environmental engineering chemistry from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (1997).

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