Aussie coal research to be shared with US

RESEARCH by the CSIRO on low-emission coal will be used by the US as part of its federal strategy on carbon capture and storage after a visit to Queensland this week by the Governor of Wyoming, Dave Freudenthal.

Lou Caruana

Accompanied by a senior delegation from General Electric and the University of Wyoming, the governor focused on CSIRO’s coal gasification and low-emissions technology research facilities at the Queensland Centre for Advanced Technologies.

"This trip has been an opportunity for Wyoming to build the relationships we need to move forward with clean coal technologies like carbon capture and sequestration," Freudenthal said.

“The hope is to create a CCS demonstration project at the University of Wyoming so that the technology can support coal, which produces 40 per cent of the country’s electricity at the lowest cost.”

Freudenthal, whose state is the top coal producer in the United States and produces more coal than Australia, is working with a task force set up by US President Obama to deliver a federal strategy on carbon capture and storage.

Coal gasification enables electricity production from coal at higher efficiencies than traditional technologies and provides an attractive foundation for capturing carbon dioxide from power generation.

The University of Wyoming, GE and the Wyoming state government are establishing a major coal gasification research facility.

"This summer University of Wyoming is going to host a conference in conjunction with the Australians and the Chinese to discuss CCS," Freudenthal said.

The QCAT gasification facilities are part of CSIRO’s coal technology research, which is focused on improving the safety and efficiency of underground coal mining and accelerating the deployment of low emission coal-based power technologies.

“CSIRO is researching technologies that will facilitate a transition to high-efficiency coal-based power systems capable of operating with very low greenhouse emissions,” CSIRO coal research leader Dr David Harris said.

“The visit presented a wonderful opportunity to progress international collaboration between two nations with significant coal resources, who are working towards the common goal of mitigating climate change.”

Freudenthal also met with academics, energy industry and government officials to discuss the future of coal production, use and global markets.

"There are still sceptics so it’s in the state’s and the country’s best interests to demonstrate it can work," he said.

The University of Wyoming’s School of Energy Resources, which sponsored the trip and was represented by director Mark Northam, has been actively searching for collaboration partners in nearly all of the governor’s meetings.

Northam said the university had a relationship with the University of Queensland. Together, the two institutions have been coordinating on CCS and coal research.

In a working session with the Australian National Low Emissions Coal Research and Development Centre, Freudenthal talked about the R&D efforts the centre had undertaken for the mining, energy and manufacturing industries.

Issues centred on how to increase the international competitiveness and efficiency of mineral resource industries and related businesses.

Before departing for the Canberra leg of the trip, Freudanthal also met with officials from Peabody Coal, which has mineral interests in Australia and Wyoming, and is the world’s largest private-sector coal company.

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