CAER Awarded $800,000 from the Department of Energy
for Research on Carbon Recovery from Fine Coal

Background
According to B.K. Parekh, the principal investigator on this project, coal companies for the past 50 or 60 years have been throwing away a significant amount of mined, fine coal because there were no economic or efficient techniques available to recover this coal. The coal, finer than 0.5 millimeters, is typically thrown into small manmade bodies of water (ponds). Once a "black water pond" is full, it is left to dry by itself; the coal producers then discard the fine coal in another nearby pond. Parekh states the amount of coal and energy represented by these hundreds of reservoirs in Kentucky alone is in the billions of tons. If this fine coal could be recovered and processed, Parekh says, the result would be an already-mined, clean-burning energy fuel and a cleaner environment. The now wasted and contaminated land could be used for other purposes.

Significant Current Research
In this project, an integrated system will be used to efficiently and economically recover the carbon from fine-coal refuse ponds. The system will incorporate innovative refuse management techniques for neutralizing the acid generation potential of the remaining material. The project will be performed cooperatively by the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (SIUC), University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) and industrial partners.

Goals of This Project
The proposed project will be conducted in two phases. In Phase I, two fine-coal cleaning circuits will be evaluated and compared based on efficiency and economics. CAER will evaluate dewatering and reconstitution of the clean-coal slurry produced in this study for providing a clean carbon product that can be easily handled and transported. Dewatering techniques will include a novel hybrid vacuum-pressure device. The potential improvements gained from the addition of coarse clean coal particles in the dewatering process will be evaluated. In addition, innovative refuse management techniques will be applied to the waste material streams of both circuits. This system incorporates the use of an enhanced gravity separator to concentrate the potential acid-generating components and uses the novel concept of combustion residues for neutralization purposes. Phase II of the project will involve demonstration of the integrated carbon recovery system at a mine to be selected based on Phase I results.

Contact: B.K. Parekh at CAER–606-257-0239

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