Clean Coal Technologies Inc (OTCMKTS:CCTC) which has a patented technology that creates stable, dust-free coal, has begun the assembly of its Fort Union test facility near Gillette, Wyoming. The Madison Avenue, New York-based company has developed a process that transforms coal with high levels of impurities, contaminants, and other polluting elements into a high energy low-polluting fuel.
The company’s second-generation facility will incorporate new features and designs following the successful testing of its process in Oklahoma. The changes are the result of close collaboration between its engineers and the University of Wyoming's School of Energy Research.
In 2017, the University partnered with the company to help optimize its technology for coal beneficiation and for the extraction of coal by-products, which are critical issues facing the Powder River Basin coal-producing region in northwest Wyoming and southeast Montana. The university has validated Clean Coal’s Pristine technology and awarded the company a grant of $500,000 in 2019 and another $500,000 in 2020.
Clean Coal Technologies is developing what could be the world’s first commercially viable and scalable coal dehydration technology. In layman’s terms, the coal-converting technology puts lower-quality coal through a mild gasification process, removing moisture as well as coal's worst pollutants. Along with producing more energy than untreated coal, the refined product also produces fewer harmful emissions when burned, including carbon dioxide, sulfur and mercury. The company’s proprietary, Pristine M technology is the result of ten years of intense research and testing.
The technology could throw a lifeline to America’s coal towns in the Appalachian region and the western state of Wyoming, which is the country’s largest coal producer.
Proactive sat down with Clean Coal Technologies CFO Aiden Neary to find out more about progress on the Fort Union test facility. Neary, who earlier worked as a managing director in a Wall Street investment bank, wears a second hat as chief operating officer at Clean Coal Technologies.
You are currently in the process of building a second-generation test facility in Wyoming after successfully testing the science and the process in Oklahoma. Can you elaborate on why you moved it there?
As you said, the technology was successfully tested in Oklahoma over a two-year period. One of the purposes of the testing was to identify ways to improve the process, both from an efficiency and cost perspective but also to look at potential diversification of capabilities of our first of a kind technology. We have secured an independent location in Wyoming that will allow us to test a variety of additional coals both domestic and international. At our location in Oklahoma, which was an active coal power utility, we were restricted to testing very limited varieties of coal. Following 12 months of review by our engineers in conjunction with our partners at the University of Wyoming, we identified a number of enhancements that we believe will further increase the beneficiated coal and will reduce the capital costs of a commercial unit.
What is the current status of the reassembly?
The majority of work completed to date has been offsite in the fabrication of the additional components that were identified during the post-testing review. We are working the “on the ground” reassembly in parallel with the offsite fabrication of parts. We are on schedule for a first-quarter 2020 completion.
What are the key additions that your second-generation test facility will have that your original facility did not have?
The introduction of a rotary kiln was the key enhancement. This will enable our facility to further increase the BTU of the processed coal, ensure complete stabilization of the end product and reduce overall capital costs of a commercial unit. It has also been designed in a manner that will enable us to automatically extract by-products from coal. Although not our primary focus the extraction of by-products will be, in my opinion, a key revenue source for our company in the future and I believe an economically viable use for US coal besides that of energy production.
US coal production in 2019 has dropped. Do you see this as an issue with respect to the future of your technology?
Firstly, global coal consumption reached almost 8 billion tons in 2018. Coal consumption continues to rise. We are not a coal company, we are not advocating for the continued use of coal. We are realists. We are merely saying that through technology like ours we can make the current coal consumption more efficient with the overall net impact of reducing coal consumption while maintaining the necessary energy output. To use an analogy, why would you transport and burn wet logs when you can dry them at source resulting in less logs being transported and ultimately consumed for energy production.
I see the US coal industry, in particular, Wyoming Powder River Basin coal as having a plethora of opportunities. The issue is that the opportunities are cleverly disguised as impossible situations by those who are short-sighted or pushing an alternative agenda. Simple fact is that global coal consumption is moving towards using higher quality coal. The opportunity for Powder River Basin coal is to upgrade their product to service global demand. This can only happen through technologies like ours. It is as complicated and as simple as that and that is why we are working so closely with the State of Wyoming and the University of Wyoming. They see not just the opportunity of our technology but the absolute need for it.
You mentioned that your technology will make coal consumption more environmentally responsible. Can you elaborate?
The challenges of coal consumption starts when it leaves the coal mine to its final destination. Coal is a brittle substance so when in contact with other coal it creates coal dust. Up to 3% of the total weight of the coal is lost in transportation. That coal dust pollutes both the air and the environment. Processing coal through our technology produces a dust-free end product. This is vital as globally the majority of the 8 billion tons of coal consumed is transported via truck, rail or sea to its end consumer. This will eliminate this issue. Secondly, as you will upgrade the coal at the mine and increase its heating capabilities by up to 33% it means that you need to transport 25% less coal. That means 25% less trucks, rail and sea barges, all of which contribute to carbon dioxide emissions in the delivery of coal. Combine that with overall net reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from burning less coal at the power facility the “cradle to grave” carbon dioxide reduction is material.
Contact the author Uttara Choudhury at [email protected]
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