Kentucky leads clean coal project

A University of Kentucky-led team recently signed an agreement to begin work on a $9 million project under the first round of the USA’s Clean Coal Power Initiative.

A team led by the University of Kentucky Research Foundation recently signed an agreement to begin work on a $9 million cost-shared project under the first round of President Bush’s 10-year, $2-billion Clean Coal Power Initiative.

The project will focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The US Department of Energy said this is just one of the goals of the Clean Coal Power Initiative, which is aimed at addressing the USA’s increasing demand for electricity whilst providing a secure, low-cost environmentally friendly energy source. The project will be equally co-funded by the participants and the Department of Energy.

The University of Kentucky Research Foundation, along with CEMEX USA and LG&E Energy Corporation, plan to build a near-commercial-scale facility called a coal utilisation by-product beneficiation plant on the grounds of the 2,200 megawatt Ghent Power Station in Ghent, Kentucky.

The demonstration plant will produce 156,000 tons per year of pozzolan and 16,000 tons per year of high-grade lightweight aggregate. The plant will also produce 16,000 tons per year graded fill sand; 1,500 tons per year of high quality polymeric filler and 8,000 tons of recycled carbon fuel.

The research team will demonstrate an advanced process to separate unburned carbon from power plant ash or ash ponds and recycle it for fuel. During the process, the ash is upgraded to produce pozzolan, a durable alternative to Portland cement. Other beneficial by-products include aggregate concrete material, graded construction fill-sand, recycled carbon fuel, and a polymer filler for plastics.

The production of pozzolan is said to reduce the manufacture of Portland cement, a significant generator of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Manufacturing Portland cement releases about one ton of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere per ton of cement produced. Estimates in the US are that the pozzolan by-product can replace up to 30 percent of the Portland cement used to make concrete.

The Energy Department’s award to the University of Kentucky Research Foundation is the fifth of six awards in round one of the Clean Coal Power Initiative.