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New Technology Promises to Produce Clean Coal
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It looks like a technology developed specifically for China, even though it took 16 years to get here. But now, after several hold-ups, such as a major interruption (by 9/11 terror attacks), it has finally found its way to China.


US-based Clean Coal Technologies Inc (CCTI), led by CEO Larry Hunt, claims to have created the world's most effective technology for turning coal into a clean energy resource.


CCTI announced at the ongoing China (Taiyuan) International Coal and Energy New Industry Expo that it has made its first moves to apply its technology to industrial operations by joining forces with Shanxi Poar, a fast-growing private-sector company led by Datong entrepreneur Guo Lihua.


This will bring the technology to a place where it is desperately needed - the province of Shanxi. Every year, Shanxi supplies one third of China's coal, emitting dirty plumes of black smoke and countless tons of greenhouse gasses.


CCTI holds a slight majority of the $100 million joint venture (55 percent) while Shanxi Poar contributes the rest of the capital.


What makes the CCTI technology so innovative is its emphasis on pre-cleaning and treatment of coal. Hunt told China Daily that the key to his company's solution is to make the coal clean before it is burned. CCTI's pre-treatment process is designed to remove much of the volatile matter and other polluting agents from the raw coal without damaging the coal's basic structure.


First the coal is heated for between six and 18 minutes at a temperature between 1,000 C and 1,500 C. That is significantly hotter than the usual burning process, when the latter can only reduce the coal to a pile of black soot.


The pre-treatment process makes the coal 10-50 percent more efficient. This will make the processed coal welcome by all thermal power stations that are still using coal types with a low calorie standard and high emissions.


The pre-treatment process creates several by-products, particularly methane, which is then harnessed to create energy, Hunt claimed. Moreover, part of, if not all, heating will be drawn from the methane captured from the pre-treatment process, Hunt claimed. Other byproducts include sulfur, other types of crude fuel, and tar.


These byproducts are valuable materials for liquefaction and can be sold to chemical companies, possibly yielding stronger returns to a coal processing company than even its main product.


As for the Shanxi joint-venture, the exact operational specifics are still to be sorted out and more will be known after a lab test in Pittsburg in the US, which will conclude in October. This is around the same time the company will process its approval documents with Chinese government agencies.


The construction of the joint venture's first production line is likely to take between nine and 10 months, according to Hunt. In the first couple of years its output is expected to rise from 1 million tons to 3 million tons per year. After that, the Sino-US JV will begin identifying potential locations in China for new coal pre-treatment facilities.


The joint venture's planned production site encompasses an area of 80 acres and is located near major power stations, road systems and stockpiling facilities in Datong, a city that supplies much of Shanxi's coal shipment to other parts of China.


Hunt said CCTI will seek professional support from the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) to ensure the JV's quality of production and management. The JV is also joined by two other partners, Michael Brown and Jenny Liu.


The joint venture hopes to charge users of the pre-treated coal a utility fee and will collect additional revenue from selling off the byproducts it captures in the process.


Hunt is a long-time coal-mining industrialist. He lives in Kentucky where he owned and operated a mine for many years in the coal fields of Kentucky and West Virginia.


(China Daily September 17, 2007)


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