Utah Clean Coal Program
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The University of Utah's Clean and Secure Energy (CASE) from Coal Program's mission is the generation of scientific and technical breakthroughs to utilize the vast energy stored in our domestic coal resources and to do so in a manner that will capture the CO2. Coal is the nation's largest fossil-fuel resource and is responsible for approximately 50% of the US's electricity generation. With a 250-year reserve/production ratio of this domestic, low-cost fuel, the U.S. is likely to continue using coal as a major component of its energy portfolio for the foreseeable future.

The research is organized around the theme of validation and uncertainty quantification through tightly coupled simulation and experimental designs and through the integration of legal, environment, economics and policy issues.

The overarching project objectives are focused in three research areas and include:

  1. Clean Coal Utilization for Power Generation 'Retrofit' through
    • Oxy-Coal Combustion - The research focuses on coupling multi-scale experimental measurements with advanced diagnostics and computer simulations of ignition and coal-flame stability under oxy-coal conditions. The goal is to ultimately produce predictive capability with quantified uncertainty bounds for pilot-scale, single-burner, oxy-coal operation. This predictive tool developed will form the basis for application to full-scale, industrial burner operations.
    • High-Pressure, Entrained-Flow Coal Gasification - The goal of this research is to begin to predict heat transfer by radiation and convection, coal conversion, soot formation, and synthesis gas composition with quantified uncertainty. The work includes laboratory and pilot-scale gasification experiments and high-performance simulation tools. It will ultimately provide a simulation tool for industrial entrained-flow integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) gasifier with quantified uncertainty.
    • Chemical Looping Combustion (CLC) - This work aims to develop a new carbon-capture technology for coal through CLC and to transfer this technology to industry through a numerical simulation tool with quantified uncertainty bounds. The specific research target for this project is to quantitatively identify reaction mechanisms and rates, explore operating options with a laboratory-scale bubbling bed reactor, develop process models and economics and demonstrate and validate simulation tools for a pilot-scale fluidized bed.
  2. Secure Fuel Production by In-Situ Substitute Natural Gas (SNG) production from deep coal seams - The primary objective of this research is to explore the potential for creating new in-situ technologies for production of SNG from deep coal deposits and to demonstrate this in a new laboratory-scale reactor. The systems concept for the SNG is to use this premium fuel produced from coal in natural gas, combined cycle (NGCC) power generation or compressed and used as a transportation fuel (CNG). This underground coal pyrolysis (UCP) technology leaves large portions of the carbon from the coal in the ground. The research focuses on the development of simulation tools, the collection of process thermo-chemical parameters, and the development of CO2 absorption isotherms from the laboratory test facility.
  3. Environmental, Legal, and Policy Issues - Given that that carbon capture and storage for coal utilization has yet to receive public acceptance, numerous environmental, legal and policy issues need to be addressed if these technologies are to be applied. The researchers are addressing the legal and policy issues associated with carbon management strategies in order to assess the appropriate role of these technologies in our evolving national energy portfolio.