|Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 6.24.13
Friday, June 24, 2013 ‚Äď
The War on Coal Continues, but Maybe There Is a Light at the End of the Tunnel
As the war on coal drags on, the President is proposing even more regulations that will negatively impact the coal industry, its jobs, and the economy of Southwest Virginia. Rest assured that I will do everything that I can to stop unreasonable regulations.
Now we all want affordable energy that is clean and efficient. If we can convince this Administration to no longer look at coal as a four-letter word, they can get what they want and we can get what we want. That is, clean-burning coal that doesn‚Äôt negatively impact the environment and that, in the process, doesn‚Äôt destroy the economy of Southwest Virginia.
Those who fight on the side of coal may have a new weapon. We now have research from Dr. Liang-Shih Fan at The Ohio State University (OSU) that I hope will turn the tide of history in favor of clean, affordable energy, including coal.
Dr. Fan is a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at OSU, where he is also the director of the university‚Äôs Clean Coal Research Laboratory. Over the last 15 years, Dr. Fan and a team of researchers have been developing a new clean-coal technology that extracts the energy out of coal with virtually no pollutants.
In this method ‚Äď known as ‚Äúcoal-direct chemical looping (CDCL)‚ÄĚ or simply ‚Äúchemical looping‚ÄĚ ‚Äď the coal is ground into a fine powder. Also needed in the chemical reaction are small iron oxide beads, which carry oxygen.
When the coal particles and the metal beads are heated to temperatures of about 1,650 ¬įF, the coal‚Äôs carbon binds with the beads‚Äô oxygen and forms pure carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide floats up and is captured, able to be recycled or stored.
This leaves behind hot iron beads and coal ash. The beads are separated from the coal ash ‚Äď the coal ash is removed, and the beads are sent to a different area where they react with air and produce heat energy. This heat energy boils water and produces steam which, in turn, is used to produce electricity.
Exposed to oxygen, the iron beads rust, and are eventually returned to the first area to be combined again with new coal particles. This is where the ‚Äúlooping‚ÄĚ in ‚Äúchemical looping‚ÄĚ comes into play.
For nine days ‚Äď 203 continuous hours ‚Äď Dr. Fan and students at OSU ran this chemical looping process, producing heat from coal while also capturing nearly 100% of the carbon dioxide produced.
According to a press release from OSU, ‚Äúdoctoral student Elena Chung explained, the 203-hour experiment could have continued even longer.
‚Äú‚ÄėWe voluntarily chose to stop the unit. Honestly, it was a mutual decision by Dr. Fan and the students. It was a long and tiring week where we all shared shifts,‚Äô she says.‚ÄĚ
Amazing. So what happens next with this exciting advancement in clean-coal technologies?
I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Fan recently, and expressed my support and enthusiasm for his work. I am grateful to The Ohio State University for embracing Dr. Fan‚Äôs research efforts, and to the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Energy Technology Laboratory, and Dr. Fan‚Äôs industrial collaborators ‚Äď Babcock & Wilcox, ClearSkies, CONSOL Energy, Air Products, and Shell-CRI - for recognizing the potential and investing their resources in Dr. Fan‚Äôs research.
A pilot plant is being built in Wilsonville, Alabama at the National Carbon Capture Center that will test a similar chemical looping process also developed by Dr. Fan and his team. In this process the coal is converted to a combination of carbon monoxide, methane, and other gases ‚Äď a mixture known as ‚Äėsyngas‚Äô ‚Äď which then reacts with iron to produce energy and capture carbon dioxide.
These technologies look very promising. What we end up with is pure carbon dioxide only, which we must then deal with. According to my conversation with Dr. Fan, his technology makes the ‚Äėcarbon capture process‚Äô 60 percent cheaper.
Many of you already know that my vision for our nation‚Äôs energy policy is straightforward ‚Äď drill, dig, discover, and deregulate. We must use the sources we have to unleash our energy potential. Coal, natural gas, oil, wind, solar ‚Äď whatever the source may be, if it‚Äôs economical, let‚Äôs discover a way to harvest it. Dr. Fan‚Äôs clean-coal technologies appear to be one of the discoveries with great promise.
These are exciting developments in clean-coal technology that I look forward to monitoring. Rest assured that I will keep you informed, and will continue working to secure our energy future and, in turn, return jobs to the Ninth District.
As always, if you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office by email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.