CoalTek this week said in a statement that it had won government approval to build an industrial-scale facility deploying its microwave-coal technology in Inner Mongolia. The company estimated the project would cost more than $350 million and have a capacity of 10 million metric tons annually.Offshore drilling, shale oil, tar sands, fracking. Can there be any doubt we're on the downward slope of Peak Oil? How desperate will we be to sustain the unsustainable?
Zapping coal with microwaves dries it, the company says. That makes coal burn easier, raising the efficiency of producing electricity with it. Turning lower grade brown coal into something better – and more valuable – is environmentally friendly, the company says.
“Microwaving the coal allows China to extract more energy from the coal it mines,” a spokesman said by email. Approval of such a deal isn’t surprising in China.
The country has been a tear securing not only natural resources, but also fund newfangled technology associated with saving and producing energy, minerals and food.
China National Offshore Oil Corp., for instance, has invested in U.S. shale oil projects and Canadian oil sand. Air China Ltd. recently tested a biofuel-powered aircraft. In Guangzhou, a cigarette maker built a skyscraper that will be cooled by wind.
The microwave coal drying technology has used elsewhere, including with something called the DryCol Process developed in Australia (pdf).
CoalTek, which says its technology is proprietary, has operated a coal-microwaving facility in Kentucky since 2007.
In China, the plan is to zap low-grade lignite and sub-bituminous coal with microwaves to evaporate water inside it. The process could as much as double the value of low-grade coal to $60 per metric ton or $70 per ton, the company claims.
“After clearing the energy and environmental hurdles, CoalTek also had to demonstrate the project’s financial viability and overall positive economic impact on the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region,” a CoalTek statement said, noting that all central and regional government approvals have been now been received.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Has It Really Come To This?
The question I posed rhetorically on The Archdruid Report in reference to this: China is exploring microwaving coal for energy: