Company That Cleans Coal Before Combustion Says it Can Add Value to PRB Product

(SNL, February 14) – Executives of a new clean coal technology company are boasting the ability to remove some of the polluting components of coal while sealing it for stabilized transportation.

Clean Coal Technologies Inc., a Florida-listed company, is looking to move a successful pilot plant from Oklahoma and sell licenses to use its technology, according to executives.

“You’re extracting the moisture from coal and through our process you actually reinsert some of the volatiles,” Aiden Neary, the COO and CFO of the company, told S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The pilot plant in Oklahoma tests the coal, dries it out and stabilizes primarily Powder River Basin coal for the attached power plant at a rate of around two tons an hour. PRB coal already has a lower sulfur and ash content than coal from Appalachia, he said, but the pilot project’s drying process can increase the BTU value of PRB coal so it appro aches the high levels of Appalachian coal, which averages around 12,500 BTU.

“With our technology we can increase the PRB coal to just over 12,000,” Neary said, adding that the lower BTU value of PRB coal is partly why its price of roughly $11.80 per ton trades so much lower than Appalachian coal, which averages about $50 per ton.

According to him, increasing the BTU of PRB coal will make it cleaner because utilities can burn about a third less coal to generate the same amount of energy. This would result in reductions to transportation costs and emissions, he said.

Neary said the process would cost a plant approximately $9 a ton, including operating and capital expenditure costs.

“You can produce a product that’s more economically viable at the same time as it’s good for the environment,” he said. “You can marry economics and the environment at the same time.”

Neary said that while many people in the industry are focus ing on carbon capture and storage technology, which deals with the aftermath of emissions, this technology provides a “pre-combustion” solution.

He said U.S. coal exports have shrunk over the past few years even though global demand has grown. Some of this is due to a strong U.S. dollar and cheaper supply from sources in Indonesia and Australia, which is difficult to control for. However, “the one thing you have complete control over is the quality of the product,” he said.

Luke Popovich, spokesperson for the National Mining Association, relayed a quote from a PRB company that was skeptical about the technology. “Coal drying is about as new as electricity,” he told S&P Global Market Intelligence, adding that he was unfamiliar with the company. “It takes a good deal of energy, makes a good deal of CO2, and creates a product that offers substantial transportation challenges.”

Robin Eves, the company’s president and CEO, agreed that it is easy to dry coal. “Anyone can dry coal. You can put it in your oven to dry it,” he said. However, the process they have created also seals the coal so it creates less dust and absorbs less water during storage and transportation — a problem that nobody other than CCTI has solved, he said. With its process, the coal can be transported and even left around for months at a time without absorbing water or creating dust.

Eves told S&P Global Market Intelligence that the time is right for the Trump administration to take advantage of this technology.

“Right now it is the ideal technology for what the United States government has mandated to the DOE and to the EPA to do,” he said. He added that the company would prefer to work with U.S. companies in the initial licensing of its technology and scaling up of its Oklahoma pilot plant and is currently working with the U.S. Department of Energy over the possibility of the agency incl uding stimulus money for coal producers for using the technology in future infrastructure investments. CCTI has also hosted interested parties from Asia and has signed a licensing request for the technology to Jindal Steel & Power Ltd. in India, he said.

For the next 60 days the company is conducting a couple more tests at the request of interested parties, he said, and then executives will decide whether to move the pilot plant to a new location in the PRB and whether to sell more licenses to interested parties. “Regarding the U.S. market itself, we will continue to work hand in hand with Washington,” he said.

Travis Deti, the executive director of the Wyoming Mining Association, said the group is always interested in technologies that add value to the state’s coal. “From what I’ve read, the technology developed by Clean Coal Technologies is very intriguing. It could certainly present some great opportunities and new markets for Wyoming PRB coal,” he told S&P Global Market Intelligence.