A year after completing a successful test in Oklahoma, New York-based Clean Coal Technologies Inc. is preparing to begin a larger project in Wyoming.
The project at the AES Shady Point coal-fired power plant near Tulsa was designed to prove the company’s ability to remove moisture and impurities from coal. The tests were conducted in December 2015.
The plant soon will move to Wyoming under a project in coordination with the U.S. Department of Energy and the states of Wyoming and Montana.
“We have third-party validation that we can dry, clean and stabilize coal,” CEO Robin Eves said in an interview with The Oklahoman this week. “We have two or three more tests we have to do for investors coming in from Australia, Indonesia and India. We’re going to complete those in the next 60 to 90 days.”
Coal-fired power plants emit relatively large amounts of pollution, including carbon dioxide, sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides. The widely used answer for the pollution is for power plants to install scrubbers — filters designed to capture some of the more damaging pollutants and reduce the emissions from the plant.
Clean Coal Technologies, however, is focused on cleaning the coal at the mine, before it is transported and burned. The process is designed to reduce the amount of coal needed and the pollutants generated from producing the same amount of heat, the company said.
“I came out of the oil industry, where the philosophy is not to burn raw crude oil, but to refine it first,” Eves said. “But with the coal industry, all the technology out there has been post combustion. They burn the coal, and then they try to clean it up through scrubbers. Instead, we try to stabilize it before they burn the coal. That way, you put a more efficient coal into the power stations around the world.”
Placing the technology at the mine also can save money and transportation costs, he said.
“With these high moisture cuts, you’re transporting 30 to 50 percent water,” Eves said.
Timing has been a challenge for the company.
“This is technology with a fact and validation. The problem was it was validated when coal was persona non grata, certainly in the U.S.,” Eves said. “All of our investment dollars have come from India, Indonesia and Australia.”
U.S. coal-fired power generation has fallen in recent years as costs have dipped for natural gas, wind and solar electricity. Environmental regulations under the Obama Administration accelerated coal’s decline throughout the country.
Available coal-fired capacity fell by about 47.2 gigawatts between the end of 2011 and the end of 2016, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Monday.
More than 11 gigawatts of natural gas-fired power generation is expected to be added nationwide this year, marking the largest gain since 2005, the EIA said in Monday’s report. Another more than 25 megawatts are scheduled online in 2018.
“The electric industry has been retiring some coal-fired generation and converting others to run on natural gas in response to the implementation of environmental regulations and to the sustained low cost of natural gas,” the report stated.
Climbing natural gas prices, however, could threaten the trend, EIA stated.
“Rising natural gas prices could lead developers to postpone or cancel some of the upcoming power plant additions,” the report stated.
Clean Coal Technologies executives also are hoping for a more favorable reception in Washington over the next few years.
“The new White House is promoting fossil fuels,” Eves said. “Everyone understands the solution to the longevity of coal is technology. All of this is proven, and it was proved in Oklahoma.”