A 15-year non-burning coal study at Ohio State University is nearing the pilot-scale development stage.
The research team has found a way to release the heat from coal without burning. It is consumed chemically and the carbon dioxide is kept inside the reactor.
“The mechanism is all the same,” OSU researcher Andrew Tong said Monday on MetroNews Talkline. “We still burn coal with air but since we can keep the air separated we don’t need to emit the CO2 into the atmosphere.”
Researchers believe the system they’ve developed can be commercially successful.
“Even though it’s a smaller scale unit, we were able to demonstrate the unit for over 200 hours of operation,” Tong said. “For the system to operate for over a week continuous it’s not a large leap to believe it can operate over a longer period of time.”
The next step in the research is a larger-scale pilot plant now under construction and scheduled to begin operations by the end of the year.
Tong says it could be just more than five years before the research is ready for the commercial market.
There remains the issue with capturing the carbon dioxide. He says a step needs to be developed where a large amount of carbon dioxide is captured and turned into something useful.
“Maybe instead of putting it away we can create some other high valued products out of it,” he said.