Friday, February 13, 2009

How About Another 3 Billion Tons of Coal?

Roughly 3 billion tons of ultrafine coal sits unused and unusable in both abandoned and active tailing ponds around the US. Finding a way to use those ultrafines would be almost the equivalent to creating 3 billion tons of coal from thin air.
The success of the hyperbaric centrifuge is significant in that the high moisture content of fine coal waste forces coal producers to discard the waste in storage areas called waste impoundments. Estimates indicate that these impoundments nationwide hold about 2 billion tons of fine coal in abandoned ponds and an additional 500 million to 800 million tons in active ponds.

Removing moisture from very fine coal particles left over from the coal preparation process has been difficult in the past. Conventional methods such as thermal dryers or mechanical dewatering have either been too costly or have been unable to dewater ultrafine coal particles (0.1 millimeters or less). The hyperbaric centrifuge addresses those issues.

Yoon and Luttrell have also received $1 million in funding from the US Department of State to also help the Indian coal industry produce a cleaner product. And the Virginia Tech researchers anticipate another project to be funded by Coal India Limited (CIL), the largest coal company in India, with the same a similar objective. The US Department of Energy has been negotiating with CIL for this project on behalf of Virginia Tech. _GCC
Current low costs of coal, oil, and gas may delay this technology for a while. But it is important to develop the ability to use energy resources that are currently unusable. Eventually, energy costs will again rise, and parts of the world will likely experience transient energy shortages. It is best to maintain access to the largest array of energy technologies
that we can.



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