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Company says its test of new coal process was successful




CHEYENNE, Wyo.

A new process being tested to refine low-grade Wyoming coal into cleaner-burning fuel showed encouraging results on reducing mercury pollution when it is blended with regular coal, according to the company developing the process.

A monthlong test burn of the refined Wyoming coal blended with Ohio coal produced an 81.7 percent drop in mercury emissions at a western Pennsylvania power plant when compared to the mercury content of the raw coal normally burned at the plant, Evergreen Energy Inc. said in a news release.

Concern about global warming and pollution emitted by coal-burning power plants is spurring efforts to develop cleaner-burning coal. Coal-burning power plants provide just over half of the nation’s electricity and emit about a third of the country’s carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.

Paul Jacobson, spokesman for the Denver-based company, said the test burn involved a mix of 75 percent Ohio bituminous coal with 25 percent Wyoming coal treated with the company’s KFuel process.

“We saw this test as a really important milestone,” Jacobson said.

The K-Fuel blended coal produced slightly less heat, which resulted in a small decrease in the megawatts produced by the power plant, according to a thirdparty analysis of the test.

“These findings show that blends of local coals with K-Fuel refined coal offer utility and industrial coal consumers a nearterm, effective and cost-saving strategy to meet new mercury emissions standards taking effect around the country,” Kevin Collins, president and CEO of Evergreen, said in a statement.

Jacobson said he could not name the Pennsylvania power plant where the test was conducted because the utility that owns the plant doesn’t want to be identified now.

Jacobson said Evergreen Energy is planning more tests of its refined coal, which is produced at a plant in Gillette.

The K-Fuel process reduces the moisture content of lowgrade coals such as lignite and sub-bituminous from roughly 30 percent to 7.5 percent and boosts the heat value from 8,000 British thermal units per pound to as much as 11,000 BTU, the company has said. It also cuts mercury, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide

and other pollutants.

Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin that accumulates in fish and poses a risk of nerve and brain damage for people. Emissions of mercury total about 48 tons a year, most of it in the form of air pollution that winds up in waterways.

Some states, including Pennsylvania, are implementing mercury emissions rules that are stricter than the federal regulations.

In addition, Congress is mulling legislation that would limit greenhouse gas emissions. Plans for coal-fired power plants have also recently been squashed in several states, although more are being planned to meet the nation’s growing demand for electricity.


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