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U.S. Department of Energy Invests $7 Million for Projects to Advance Coal Power Generation Under Coal FIRST Initiative

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) has selected seven Coal FIRST (Flexible, Innovative, Resilient, Small, Transformative) conceptual designs to receive $7 million and proceed with preliminary front-end engineering design (pre-FEED) studies. These designs have been selected from 13 conceptual design studies that were completed by 11 different recipients as part of the first phase of the effort.
The DOE selected the designs as a part of its Coal FIRST initiative, which seeks to advance coal power generation beyond today’s state-of-the-art capabilities and make coal-fired power plants better adapted to the evolving electrical grid. Research and development resulting from this initiative will underpin coal-fired power plants that are capable of flexible operations to meet the needs of the evolving grid, use innovative cutting-edge components that improve efficiency and reduce emissions, provide resilient power to Americans, are small compared to today’s conventional utility-scale coal, and will transform how coal technologies are designed and manufactured.

Descriptions of the seven conceptual designs selected to proceed are listed below:

(1) 8 Rivers Capital

(Durham, NC) will perform a pre-FEED study on a 300 megawatt (MW) zero emission Allam Cycle coal plant. The Allam Cycle has the potential to produce electricity at a lower cost than conventional fossil generation with greater than 97 percent carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and near-zero air emissions. In this project, the team will integrate coal gasification and the Allam Cycle core technology currently being proven by NET Power (a separate entity advancing the Allam Cycle on natural gas).

Key technological benefits of this design include net efficiency in the mid-to-high 40s; higher heating value with carbon capture; ramping speeds in-line with natural gas combined cycle technology, with the potential to exceed that performance; significant water savings (50 percent to 60 percent) compared with integrated gasification combined cycle technology; fuel flexibility; and the ability to store electricity as chemicals when power is in low demand.

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The Surprisingly Sustainable Case for Coal

Amid a fuel that is so often miscast as a Hollywood villain, I’d like to briefly lay out what I would call the surprisingly sustainable case for coal… with three key observations.

First Observation: The story of global energy is not one of good versus evil.
It is a tale of the pursuit of two “goods” – affordable, reliable energy and reduced emissions.  Maximising the benefits while minimising the costs are what so many of us are about every single day.

First, the basics:  The world uses some 8 billion tons of coal per year. A bit more than one out of every four units of energy in the world comes from coal – and the International Energy Agency (IEA) has noted that this share has actually edged up in the past four decades – and off a much larger base.

For the first time ever in 2018, global coal-fuelled generating capacity topped 2,000 gigawatts (GW).  That’s a massive 62% increase since the year 2003… and each GW can use about 3 million tons of coal per year.  Some 300 GW of new coal-fuelled generation is under construction in Asia alone – more than the entire existing U.S. coal fleet. More than 40 nations have added coal-fuelled generation since 2010.

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A Saving Grace Underground: WVU Engineers Utilize Robots to Improve Mine Safety

Injuries and deaths caused by roof collapses and falling debris, common culprits for underground mine accidents, could be prevented by the unlikely force of robots and drones, thanks to the work of West Virginia University engineers.

Ihsan Berk Tulu, assistant professor of mining engineering, along with Jason Gross, Yu Gu and Guilherme Pereira, from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, are developing an autonomous robotic system to monitor the structural integrity and safety of underground mines.

 

Researchers from the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources are developing an autonomous robotic system to monitor the structural integrity and safety of underground mines. Pictured are Yu Gu and Jason Gross, of the Statler College; Barry Fink and Richard Rohrssen, of Laurel Aggregates; and Berk Tulu and Guilherme Pereira, of the Statler College.

Photo by Paige Nesbit, West Virginia University

By using a combination of remote vehicles that consist of an unmanned aerial vehicle attached to an unmanned ground vehicle, the team will provide high-resolution 3D maps for assessment of pillar and roof damage.
The researchers were awarded a $750,000 grant from the Alpha Foundation to conduct this research on the health and safety of underground miners.

"Ultimately, this project will develop an early warning system that will notify the mine engineers for elevated hazardous conditions in underground stone mines," Tulu explained.

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NETL Director Delivers Keynote Talk at Lignite Energy Council Event

NETL Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D., discussed state-of-the-art energy R&D and the Lab’s work to meet the nation’s most important energy challenges with representatives from mining companies, power providers and other businesses that rely on lignite at the Lignite Energy Council Fall Conference on October 3, 2019 in Bismarck, North Dakota (USA).

Brian Anderson

Anderson delivered a keynote address focused on state-of-the-art energy R&D and scientific and technological initiatives related to fossil energy that bring together multidisciplinary teams to meet some of the nation’s most important energy challenges. The presentation, titled “Accelerating Breakthrough Innovation in Clean Coal Technologies,” highlighted NETL’s forward-looking research and technology development and the Lab’s team of world-renowned experts who are driving fossil energy innovation.

Prior to the event, NETL hosted a program review workshop that covered a wide range of coal-related topics, including carbon capture, carbon storage, rare earth elements from coal and coal byproducts, and high-value carbon products from coal.

NETL has a long history of success with coal-related research, including making coal mining safer in the early 20th century, synthesising fuels from coal during World War II, and developing innovations to mitigate acid rain from power plant emissions. Today’s research at the Lab is advancing sensors, materials and components to improve the performance, reliability and efficiency of the nation’s coal-fired fleet; developing membranes and catalysts and other high-tech tools to reduce the cost of capture carbon from coal and put it to work for America; and, creating new jobs, products and markets for coal, such as affordable, efficient extraction of rare earth elements and upcycling CO2 in novel concretes.

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Best Ever Video on the Global Warming Hoax
 

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