DOE Announces Five Research Projects to Improve Mining Efficiency
Samuel W. Bodman
As part of the Bush Administration's continuing effort to make more efficient use of
America's domestic energy resources while maintaining sound stewardship of the
environment, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of five new research and development (R&D) projects worth more than $3 million to develop new mining technologies that will reduce energy use and lower costs. The Energy Department will contribute nearly $1.88 million to this effort, matched by $1.13 million from the private sector.
"Mining is very energy-intensive, and DOE's investment in mining technologies can help make the mining and minerals industries more efficient and environmentally friendly," said Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman. "An affordable, reliable energy supply is essential to America's continued economic growth and job creation."
Each year, nearly 47,000 pounds of materials are mined for each person in the United States. The Mining Industry of the Future, a collaboration between the U.S. mining industry and DOE's Industrial Technologies Program (ITP), is working to make the U.S. mining industry the most efficient, advanced and energy-efficient in the world. ITP invests in transformational technologies to produce dramatic energy and environmental benefits in U.S. industry.
Reducing industrial energy use can lower costs, reduce greenhouse gases and other emissions, improve productivity, and reduce America's reliance on imported energy supplies. The five mining projects announced today were selected through an open, competitive solicitation process. Private companies and universities will work with DOE to develop advanced mining technologies involving both coal and hard rock.
The projects are:
Infrastructure for Integrated Data Environment and Analysis (IIDEA)
IIDEA's goal is to lower energy costs in all phases of mining and processing through better monitoring and understanding of production processes. This research program will develop a system to track data from information, to knowledge, and finally, to action, design procedures, reports, leading performance measures, or automated decision-making called "Holistic Process Control Models" (HPCM). HPCM will be a step-change in how mines measure, predict, control, and monitor mining processes. The project team leader is the University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. Partners in this project are: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA; Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA.; University of Alaska - Fairbanks; Phelps Dodge Corporation, Safford, AZ.; Mintec Inc., Tucson, AZ.; and Dimension Technology Solutions, Littleton, CO. The DOE share of this project will be $1,049,482, with $665,300 contributed by the private sector.
Development of an Ultra-Fine Coal Dewatering Technology and an Integrated Flotation Dewatering System for Coal Preparation Plant
This project will establish a new, efficient and low-cost process for coal preparation plants, by which very fine coal can be recovered and
"dewatered" so that it can be used as power plant fuel. Removing moisture raises the BTU (British Thermal Unit) content of coal, improves handling and reduces the amount of waste. The consortium will develop an experimental model to test four dewatering strategies. The project team leader is West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV. Partners in this project are: Luscar Ltd., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Mineral Technologies International Inc., Morgantown, WV; McLanahan Corporation, Hollidaysburg, PA; and DaVall Bros Inc., Morgantown, WV. The DOE share of this project will cost $79,984, with $20,000 contributed by the private sector.
Development of an Advanced Fine Coal Suspension Dewatering Process
This project will evaluate a two-stage dewatering process developed at the University of Kentucky, using vacuum and pressure to remove water from very small coal slurries (watery mixtures of coal and water). The project team leader is the University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY. Partners in this project are: Consol Energy, Pittsburgh, PA.; Peabody Energy, St. Louis, MO; and Horizon Natural Resources, Ashland, KY. The DOE share will cost $99,912, with $53,349 contributed by the private sector.
Breakthrough Energy Savings with Waterjet Technology
This project will establish a method for disintegrating hard rock and minerals utilizing high-pressure waterjets to separate the valuable mineral from its ore, enlarging the ore's fractures so that the individual minerals are released from the rock. The project team leader is the University of Missouri-Rolla, Rolla, MO. Partners in this project are: Doe Run Company, St. Louis, MO.; and Gardner Denver, Houston, TX. The DOE share of this project will cost $79,064, with $20,000 contributed by the private sector.
Development of a Novel Dry Coal Processing Technology
This project will develop a portable technology to process lignite, sub-bituminous and bituminous coal found in surface mining operations located throughout the United States.
The project team leader is the University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY. Partners in this project are: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA.; Massey Energy, Charleston, WV; Peabody Energy, St. Louis, MO.; The Falkirk Mining Co./North American Coal Corp., Underwood, ND; and Eriez Manufacturing Co., Erie, PA. The DOE cost is $568,506, with $375,655 cost-shared by the partners.
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