The carbon conundrum: Campbell County at center of push for coal innovation

What a difference a decade makes. In the electricity production industry, coal was not only king 10 short years ago, it was the conquering emperor, and the Powder River Basin was its seat of power. The PRB saw a record year of production in 2008 when it mined and shipped more than 446 million tons of coal and supplied about 50 percent of all the coal burned to produce electricity in the United States. And as with any empire, the focus of the local energy industry was holding and increasing that power and not so much on the future line of succession. To that end, the nation’s largest coal producers assumed billions of dollars of debt in acquisitions. Fast-forward a decade dominated by federal regulation and a global population shifting more toward an anti-fossil fuels philosophy and the crash has been hard. Three of the world’s — and Powder River Basin’s — largest coal producers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. The basin has lost thousands of direct and indirect coal industry jobs, and the PRB has seen its share of energy generation plummet from 50 percent to about 30 percent. The numbers tell the story. From that high of 446.5 million tons of coal produced in 2008, the Powder River Basin was down 36 percent by 2016 at 287 million tons and 32 percent in 2017 at 305 million tons produced. And as much as the debate over climate change and global warming has impacted coal-generated electricity in the U.S. and abroad, it’s also created a shift in focus for coal and carbon. While thermal coal will continue...

Could technology open doors to a cleaner-burning future for coal?

Clean Coal Technologies and the University of Wyoming are collaborating on a cleaner, more efficient way for the US and the world to produce and consume coal The term ‘clean coal’ has taken on various definitions over the years and has grown to encapsulate several ideas to better coal’s environmental impact. At the heart of all of these solutions is the desire to reduce coal pollution, typically by recapturing carbon released as the product is utilised, or similar. For many, the idea of coal as a dirty word is changing. Read the full...

Clean Coal to put test plant at former Fort Union site

Jonathan Gallardo Clean Coal Technologies, Inc. has a permanent location for its test facility in Campbell County. Sean Mahoney, the company’s press officer, said the University of Wyoming is working with the company to get the test plant up and running at the former Fort Union mine site as soon as possible. The site is northeast of Gillette off Garner Lake Road. “We had a lot of boxes to check in order to ensure maximum return,” said Aiden Neary, the company’s COO and CFO. “This particular location, we filled each box.” The site’s proximity to Gillette, as well as the fact that it already had some infrastructure in place, made it the ideal location, Neary said. Now the company is seeking the necessary permits through the state Department of Environmental Quality. “We’ve met with them already, and we needed to finalize and secure the location before the actual application,” he said. “They’re very aware of what we’re doing and what our plans are.” The company’s technology reduces the moisture in coal, leaving the mineral stable and safe to handle. Along with producing more energy than untreated coal, the refined Clean Coal product also produces fewer harmful emissions when burned, including carbon dioxide. Clean Coal will facilitate the advanced research work being done in partnership with UW to assess the the technology’s ability to access the valuable byproducts from coal. It expects this will produce a separate and important revenue stream for Powder River Basin coal. The Fort Union site is turning into a hot spot for carbon innovation. It is home to Atlas Carbon and also has been pegged...

Clean Coal set to make Wyoming move

Development of a Clean Coal Technologies Inc. research plant and commercial production facility in the Powder River Basin will begin in the New Year at the former Two Elk property southeast of Wright. Robin Eves, Clean Coal’s CEO, announced during a teleconference Thursday morning that the company’s test facility at the AES Shady Point coal-fired power plant near Tulsa, Oklahoma, has completed its testing there and is being “mothballed” for a move to Wyoming. It should arrive about the end of January. He added that a commercial facility capable of processing 30 tons of coal an hour also will be located near Gillette, which the News Record later confirmed with the company to be the former Two Elk site. He said the company has been working with Wyoming New Power and Piper Jaffray to build the commercial plant, along with some fast-moving negotiations with potential customers in India, Indonesia and Australia. “The (test) plant has been upgraded to operate at a much higher level than before,” he said, adding that the byproducts of refining coal “have huge value, and our technology has the capability of acting as a coal refinery, which has significant value around the world.” Clean Coal’s process reduces the moisture in coal in a way that leaves the mineral stable and safe to handle. Along with producing more energy than untreated coal, the refined product also produces fewer harmful emissions when burned, including carbon dioxide. Also providing significant value to Clean Coal Technologies is a recently announced partnership with the University of Wyoming, Eves said. That agreement, announced in October, will see the university “help perfect...