A company that is developing a process to produce cleaner burning coal plans to begin work next month on establishing a test plant in northeast Wyoming, a company official said.
Robin Eves, CEO of Clean Coal Technologies Inc., said his company is close to starting the commercial designs of the coal refining process it has been working on for more than a decade.
Along with producing more energy than untreated coal, the refined coal product also produces fewer harmful emissions when burned, including carbon dioxide, the company said.
The company will use coal from the Powder River Basin in northeast Wyoming in the new test plant.
A location of the test plant will be announced soon, Eves told the Gillette News Record in an email.
Through CCTI's proprietary process, coal is treated in a way that extracts much of its moisture, which makes it lighter.
While dehydrating coal isn't a new idea, being able to do it in a way that the coal remains stable is, said Richard Horner, director of special projects and emerging technology with the University of Wyoming's School of Energy Resources.
"It's one thing taking the moisture out of coal, but if you do not consume that de-watered coal pretty quickly, you have spontaneous combustion problems," Horner said. "What CCTI has done, which makes it intriguing, is that they've taken volatiles out of the coal together with the water, which improves the BTU value. Then, they're taking those volatiles and spraying it back on the coal, which stabilizes it. That's quite original."
Horner said that UW receives proposals for about three or four energy-related technologies a month.
"For the first time, there's something serious to look at here," he said. "This seriously needs to go to the next level."
That is why UW has recently partnered with CCTI on its research and development in Wyoming.
While the prospect of CCTI's research is exciting, Horner said there are still several steps that need to be taken before it can be marketed, especially for export.
After CCTI establishes its test plant in Wyoming, Horner said he expects to have a good handle on how viable and marketable the technology can be for Wyoming coal.