The coal drying process developed by Environmental Clean Technologies (ECT) at the Maddingley Brown Coal mine in Bacchus Marsh, mid-way between Melbourne and Ballarat, generates 1kL of water and one tonne of 'Coldry pellets' for every two tonnes of brown coal.
The technology changes the molecular structure of raw, porous brown coal into a dense, dry hard pellet with the energy equivalent of high-grade black coal.
"The Coldry pellet can reduce emissions by around 10% in existing brown coal generators. When deployed in a modernised brown coal boiler, the emission reduction may rise to around 40%," said Victorian Resources Minister Peter Batchelor, who visited the site yesterday.
"ECT's innovative process improves the thermal efficiency of Victorian brown coal to create a product comparable with black coal from Queensland and NSW, reducing emissions and costs."
Removing this water improves the environmental performance of brown coal in generating electricity. The water can be returned to the generation process or returned to the environment for other purposes.
Victorian brown coal is costly to transport, leading to generators usually being sited at the mine mouth. The Coldry process produces a hard, high-energy pellet that is more easily and cheaply transported, creating export potential for both the technology and fuel.
Environment Minister Gavin Jennings said the Coldry project was supported with $238,000 from the Victorian Government's Sustainability Fund, managed by Sustainability Victoria, which fosters sustainable resource use and projects.
"In addition to generating lower emission energy, the pellets will also provide quality feedstock for new steel making processes and can be used for oil-from-coal technologies," Jennings said.
ECT is hoping to export this technology to markets in northern Europe and Asia which use brown coal similar to Victoria's.