Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | February 13, 2009

Environmental lawyer Sanders says race is on to develop cost-effective techonology to recover coal fines from waste impoundments.

A dewatering technology developed at Virginia Tech has succeeded in reducing the moisture content of ultrafine coal to less than 20%, transforming it to a salable product. The demonstration was the result of a seven-year, $13-million cooperative effort supported by the Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).


Roe-Hoan Yoon, the Nicholas T. Camicia Professor of Mining and Mineral Engineering in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering, and his colleagues developed a hyperbaric centrifuge that can efficiently dewater coal as fine as talcum powder. Such coal fines presently must be discarded by even the most advanced coal cleaning plants because its moisture content in conventional dewatering systems make it unmarketable.


During recent prototype tests at Arch Coal Company’s Cardinal plant in Logan County, W.Va., the technology reduced the moisture to a level that the waste coal can now be marketed commercially. The result is significant to the energy consumer in that US coal producers each year discard large amounts of moisture-laden coal fines that can potentially be salvaged for energy use while simultaneously cleaning up the environment.

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