UK Teams with State to Investigate Coal and Timber Waste as Fuel

(August 8, 2002) -- Lexington, KY - Scientists will soon join with two of Kentucky's biggest industries to create a premium fuel from coal and timber waste. Investigators from the University of Kentucky's Center for Applied Energy Research, along with the Mining Engineering Department, have received $501,730 through the Kentucky Division of Energy with funds supplied by the US Department of Energy. Including the cost-share contributions of UK and the industrial partners, the total project funding will be $670,500 for the two-year project.

Two coal and lumber companies will be assisting the UK scientists by supplying materials and acting as technical advisors to the project. This industrial advisory board is composed of: James River Coal Co., Cook and Son Mining Co., Pine Mountain Lumber Co., and H & S Lumber. Also on board is the Kentucky Forrest Industries Association.

The waste coal obtained from coal refuse ponds will be cleaned using advanced separation technologies. It will then be dewatered to moisture levels lower than current technologies obtain, using an enhanced dewatering technique. The clean coal and sawdust will be combined at an approximate ratio of about 9-to-1 and reconstituted to form a utility fuel that can be easily handled and transported. The close proximity of the coal and lumber industries within the state minimizes transportation costs.

In addition to improving the efficiency of fine-coal recovery processes, the project will evaluate and optimize the use of sawdust. Early studies have shown that the addition of sawdust and other wood fibers improves filtration properties of the coal, ultimately yielding a lower moisture content product. This step also improves the strength of the reconstituted fuel, which will either be extruded or formed into briquettes.

Geoffrey Young, Assistant Director of the Kentucky Division of Energy says, "The Kentucky Division of Energy is enthusiastic about being involved with this research and development project because it fits into the ongoing Kentucky Industries of the Future program (Ky-IOF), the goal of which is to help energy-intensive industries improve their efficiency, reduce waste, and remain economically viable. This grant award is the first tangible result of the Ky-IOF process in the Kentucky mining industry, and we hope it will lead the way to further innovations."

After completing the project, a detailed economic evaluation of the total process will be conducted. If successful, the process will produce a fuel having an energy value of around 9,000 -10,000 Btu/lb from material that is currently disposed in refuse ponds and landfills. The state could realize an annual energy recovery of 842 billion Btu from sawdust, while 69,600 billion Btu would be obtained from the fine-coal currently being disposed. Based on an average cost of 1.20 $/MMBtu, the total increased revenue could be as much as $84.5 million annually.

Date of News Release: August 8, 2002

Additional Information: Marybeth McAlister - Phone: 859-257-0224.

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