Signicant clean coal success

CONSOL Energy, along with several partners, has successfully demonstrated two clean power generation technologies that make use of alternative fuels, including coal waste and coal-based methane, a greenhouse gas. J. Brett Harvey, CONSOL Energy President and CEO: "With demand for electricity anticipated to grow during the next decade, we believe these clean power technologies, and others like them, will help to meet that demand while controlling emissions of greenhouse gases.

Kathleen McGinty, Secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), attended a dedication ceremony January 11 for the technologies at the South Park, Pennsylvania, facilities of CONSOL Energy’s Research and Development Group, which is overseeing both projects.

One of the projects is the pilot-scale test facility of PFBC (Pressurized Fluidized Bed Combustion) Environmental Energy Technology’s (PFBC-EET) clean coal technology system used to generate power from waste coal and other fuels. This pilot project located at CONSOL Energy’s R&D facilities received a $1.64 million grant from the Pennsylvania DEP.

The second project is a first-of-a-kind, micro-turbine generator configured to use unprocessed coal-mine methane (CMM) directly from an underground source to generate electricity. The micro-turbine was installed as part of a Pennsylvania DEP project grant awarded to CONSOL Energy R&D in conjunction with CNX Gas Corp, majority owned by CONSOL, and is being tested at CONSOL’s Bailey underground mine in western Greene County, Pennsylvania.

CONSOL Energy worked with the PFBC-EET project team to help with the design and construction of a Process Test Facility (PTF) as part of Phase I (test facility construction/commissioning) of the project. The PTF is capable of burning a wide variety of Pennsylvania waste coals with the objective of providing the necessary combustion and emissions data needed to design and build commercial-scale PFBC electricity-generating units.

Construction of the PFBC’s pilot-test facility was completed last year, with a successful initial test burn of a coal-waste fuel conducted in December. "Among the environmental benefits in using this technology are the reduction of emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide resulting from coal combustion," said Doug Farnham, President of PFBC-EET. "PFBC technology can utilize very low heat-value, wet fuels, such as waste coal, which will assist in the cleanup of coal waste impoundments around the commonwealth, and elsewhere, eliminating another environmental problem. In addition, the waste by product is benign and can be easily backfilled or used in commercial applications, such as cement, road aggregate and a variety of building materials."

Farnham also pointed out the economic impact of the technology on a commercial scale. He explained that each commercial facility would employ "about 1,000 workers during construction and 150 full-time operating and maintenance personnel."

The PFBC technology currently is deployed on a commercial scale in several countries, including Sweden and Japan. Both countries maintain some of the strictest emission standards in the world, and have permitted the operation of six such plants.

For the micro-turbine project, at the Bailey mine, one of the largest underground coal mines in the world, CONSOL and CNX Gas partnered with Ingersoll Rand Energy Systems to install this first unit. "We’ve been able to demonstrate that this unit is an innovative way to harvest and use a greenhouse gas which would normally be vented into the atmosphere," said Nick DeIuliis, President and CEO, CNX Gas. "If the economic evaluation is positive, this technology can be applied in coalfields either in isolated areas which may lack access to electricity transmission lines or at individual commercial power generation sites."

The first project of its kind in the world, the micro-turbine unit — a small, mobile electricity generator designed and built by Ingersoll Rand Energy Systems and modified for the project by CONSOL Energy R&D — produces about 70 kW of electricity, which is then used by the Bailey mine operations. Use of the unit will recover an otherwise lost resource and will help to curb greenhouse gas and carbon emissions.