Wyoming Researches Clean-Coal Technology
Beefing up on planet-friendly energy doesn’t have to mean pulling the plug entirely on traditional resources such as coal.
In a state rich in renewable resources such as wind and less fashionable energy sources such as coal, the name of the game is keeping it clean.
Green, Clean-Coal Technology Research in Wyoming
Clean-coal technology is at the forefront of the nationwide efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the initiative is nowhere more front burner than in Wyoming. A multiple-pronged approach to the issue is taking shape across the state, bringing together players from the government, private industry and educational arenas.
One prominent clean coal partnership is the agreement between General Electric and the University of Wyoming to build a $100 million research facility to refine coal gasification technology, the process by which coal is converted to a product called synthesis gas. The synthesis gas can be burned in the same way as natural gas, and is a much more efficient use of the coal.
Both Wyoming and the nation are rich in low-grade, high-moisture coal that is currently unsuitable for the gasification process, and researchers would like to create technology that works beyond this limitation.
“It’s designed to benefit Wyoming, but it’s also a key component to utilizing coal as part of the solution to our energy-security needs,” says Mark Northam, who is the director of the School of Energy Resources at the University of Wyoming. “It is the latest coal-based technology.”
DKRW Advanced Fuels is planning a facility in Medicine Bow that will utilize gasification technology to produce syngas, as well as use coal-to-liquid technology to churn out 15,000 to 20,000 barrels of environmentally sensitive liquid coal each year.
The state also recently passed legislation creating regulations for the capture and underground storage of carbon dioxide and other emissions created by coal-fired power plants. This practice of carbon sequestration, which is garnering attention nationwide, is one of the state government’s efforts to become a leader in Wyoming’s clean coal movement. It's an effort that's sure to pay off, both in quality of life and in Wyoming's economic development.