CAER Researchers Awarded $2.2 Million from the
Department of Energy for Fuel and Carbons Work

The Center for Applied Energy Research has been awarded $2.2 million for a project to develop technology for the recovery of fuel and adsorbent carbons from coal-burning utility ash ponds and landfills. CAER scientists Thomas Robl and Jack Groppo are heading up this project.

There are approximately 150 million tons of coal combustion char stored in ash landfills and ponds in the United States. This material not only represents wasted fuel but is also an economic and environmental liability. More stringent regulation has increased the cost of ash disposal space from around $3/ton to around $19/ton. The conversion of most of the country’s coal combustion units to low nitrogen oxide burners is expected to result in higher levels of char in coal ash. As a fuel, this carbon char is of surprisingly high value. It is relatively low in sulfur and is readily combustible.

Significant Current Research
Recent patented breakthroughs in froth-flotation chemistry allow this char to be separated from the ash with reduced processing costs. A new cost-effective technology for carbon char recovery, referred to as Fuel Float,has the promise of efficiently recovering fuel grade char and creating new space in existing utility ash ponds and landfills. Economic analysis indicates that the recovered carbon fuel is less expensive than coal when compared on a Btu basis.

Goals of This Project
The goals of the proposed research are (Phase 1) to optimize and fully integrate the unit processes, demonstrate the quality of the recovered fuel carbon, and investigate its adsorption characteristics. Further objectives (Phase 2) will be to construct and operate a near-commercial-scale Fuel Float unit at Santee Cooper’s Winyah Generating Station.

The target material for both phases of the study is the 776,000 tons of carbon char contained in the 5.8 million tons of coal combustion by-products stored at the Winyah Station in South Carolina.

Contact: Thomas Robl at CAER606-257-0272; Jack Groppo at CAER606-257-0254;


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