SHERIDAN, Wyo. (KIFI/KIDK) - The Department of Energy (DOE) has allocated $1 million to help develop a "higher-value" use for coal, beyond its use in power plants.
Terra Power, a nuclear innovation company in Bellevue, Washington will work with Ramaco Carbon of Sheridan, Wyoming to develop the process. DOE believes it could result in significant environmental benefits.
"Our company operates under a simple mantra: 'Coal is too valuable to burn'," said Ramaco Carbon CEO Randall Atkins. "Through our research we are seeking higher technology uses for the carbon from coal, which will increase its value and lower the environmental footprint from its use. Every bit of coal that's used to create an advanced product or material like carbon fiber is moving us toward a greener future, and a stronger American economy."
Josh Walter, project manager for Integrated Energy Systems (IES) and Innovation Engineer at TerraPower, explained that using CO2-free heat from nuclear can displace the emission-intensive processes currently used to transform biomass and fossil resources into usable products.
DOE said the project would also help lower the cost of carbon fiber, which in turn would make lighter and more fuel-efficient cars and airplanes.
"The major environmental grievance about coal concerns its use as a fuel to make power," said Atkins. "There are many alternative ways that the carbon found in coal can be deployed that do not involve burning it."
TerraPower is a nuclear innovation company that originated with Bill Gates and other visionaries. It is committed to activities in nuclear energy and related sciences.