University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources, Wood and Atlas Carbon launch coal conversion demo

Sep 08 2022


The field demonstration project, located near Gillette, Wyoming, will serve as a testing facility for sustainable coal refinery processes using Powder River Basin Coal.

The University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources (SER), in partnership with Wood and Atlas Carbon, broke ground on a coal refinery field demonstration project, announced UW SER. The site, located near Gillette, Wyoming, will showcase – at pre-commercial scale – a sustainable coal refinery process, as well as product technologies using Wyoming Powder River Basin (PRB) coal.    

The thermochemical process technology developed in SER’s Center for Carbon Capture and Conversion (CCCC) efficiently decomposes Wyoming coal, yielding beneficial liquids and solids that are then used to create valuable, non-energy products, such as building and construction materials, asphalt products and agricultural soil amendments. 

The core process technology integrates thermal coal solvent extraction and flash/thermal-pyrolysis processing and is a critical part of the carbon engineering program. CCCC researchers have worked with much success since 2016 refining the novel process and developing the coal-derived carbon products. Wyoming has invested more than $30 million to date on such projects. 

Wood, a British-based leading consulting and engineering company, has completed a phase 1 engineering study for site works, as well as a corresponding feasibility study that could integrate UW’s coal refinery technology to showcase a first-of-a-kind field demonstration. 

“We are proud to continue and grow our presence in Wyoming,” says Steve Conway, senior vice president for process and chemicals at Wood. “This collaboration aligns well with our pursuit of future-ready, innovative technology and complements our ongoing research with the university to develop additional industry solutions.” 

Situating the novel coal-processing technology adjacent to the existing activated carbon production facility, which is operated by Atlas Carbon, will take advantage of existing Wood expertise and coal-handling preparation capabilities at the site. The manufacturing plant is located near the Wyoming Innovation Center and has the ability and capacity to convert carbon into products, making it an ideal location for a field demonstration. The new pilot facility will be in “the heart of the Powder River Basin” and will enable Atlas’ continued improvement of activated carbons produced from the high-quality coal as a feedstock. 

In the next phase of this site demonstration, the pyrolysis portion of the technology will be installed to create larger volumes of coal char that can then be used to manufacture useful products such as building materials and soil amendments. Once fully operational as a demonstration site, the facility will showcase the possibilities of PRB coal to potential industry and commercial stakeholders. The evolution of a new carbon economy is taking shape through the three-way collaboration and with the support of the state. 

University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources
Atlas Carbon


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Issue 88 - July - Aug 2021

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