Friday, December 24, 2010

Coldry - Comfortable Coal?

From the title of the following article you would assume that there was some ground breaking news to follow... but then the headline doesn't say what this technology would be cheaper than.  Interesting that this article appeared so soon after the bad news from Queensland (Carbonuncle - below).
Cleaner brown coal said to be cheaper emissions reducer
Mathew Murhpy, SMH, Dec 22.
A MELBOURNE-BASED company has claimed that a cleaner version of brown coal could cut Victoria's greenhouse gas emissions at less cost than a combination of wind energy and fossil fuels. Environmental Clean Technologies uses a patented process that alters the chemical composition of brown coal - a high emitter of greenhouse gases when burnt - into a pellet form of black coal, a cleaner alternative. Chief executive Kos Galtos said the Coldry technology could meet Victoria's 20 per cent emissions reduction target, or 13 million tonnes of greenhouse gas, at lower cost than hybrid generation such as wind and gas or wind and brown coal.
"Could" as in may be possible in the future. The ECT website is at least upfront about the environmental impact of coal.
Some may dismiss any attempt to label any form of fossil fuel as ‘Green’.
We agree! There is no such thing as clean coal.
However there is ‘cleaner’ coal. So what is the basis for understanding the ‘Green’ credentials of Coldry?  It comes down to two simple concepts:
  • Net Energy Footprint
  • Net Carbon Footprint
The net energy footprint of a lignite drying technology must be positive, while its net carbon footprint (including end use) must be negative. Coldry is not a zero emission solution. It is a transitional solution that mitigates emissions now. The reality is, even with best efforts, society will use coal for a while to come, until cleaner energy alternatives are developed to a level affordable to average citizens
The process has passed the pilot scale and the company plans to build larger scale units which according to the website will process:
  • 167,000 TPA of Coldry from 60% moisture coals,
  • 220,000 TPA of Coldry from 50% moisture coals,
  • or 300,000 TPA of Coldry from 40% moisture coals.
If the units above (TPA) mean tonnes per annum then surely this is a long way from producing the stated reductions claimed above?

To put this in perspective the Loy Yang Power Station has an 18 hour reserve coal bunker of 70,000 tonnes and 30 million tonnes are extracted from the pit every year. So 300,000 tonnes (from 1 Coldry unit) is about 1% of the production from the Loy yang Pit.

The ECT Website claims that the process is;
Immediately deployable in existing brown coal boilers (10% to 20% of total energy mix), Decreasing coal requirements (7% to 14%), Reducing emissions (6% to 11%) and Reducing ash accumulation (2% to 4%)
Which I think means that ~20 of these units are needed for Loy Yang.

For more on Brown Coal try:
Advances in the Science of Victorian Brown Coal
The Science of Victorian brown coal: structure, properties, and consequences for utilization

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