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October 24, 2000

Governor's Coal Conference Highlights Clean Coal Initiatives

SPRINGFIELD -- The 2000 Governor's Illinois Coal Conference convened in Springfield today, with a focus on fostering the development and deployment of clean coal-burning technologies.

"As a state we've made progress in promoting clean coal technologies," Governor George H. Ryan said. "However, more must be done to find new uses for Illinois coal in ways that are better for the environment. And that's why we've brought together not only the public and private sectors, but also producers, suppliers, transporters and consumers to discuss the issues facing Illinois' coal industry."

Panel discussions at the conference will cover such topics as coal ash management, air quality goals, and changes in the markets for Illinois Basin coal. Speakers will include General Richard Lawson, president of the National Mining Association, and Robert E. Murray, CEO of American Coal Sales Co.

Over the last 20 years, Illinois has achieved a 35 percent reduction of sulfur dioxide emissions as the use of clean coal technology has increased. During that time, the state has deployed $108 million in Coal Bond Funds for new commercial technology that's lead to cleaner power plants and other coal-burning facilities.

Since 1982, Illinois has invested an additional $50 million in basic and applied clean coal research, the largest coal research commitment of any state in the nation. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs' (DCCA) Coal Research and Development Programs sponsor and promote the advancement of technology with special emphasis on the removal of sulfur and other pollutants emitted during the combustion of high-sulfur Illinois coal.

The program is administered by DCCA under the technical oversight of the Illinois Clean Coal Institute, located in Carterville, Illinois.

"This year, we are enhancing our commitment to clean coal technology and research by awarding $1.6 million in grants for 13 different projects," Ryan added.

"Under the leadership of Governor Ryan, scientists working on clean coal breakthroughs will have the resources to continue and commercialize significant projects to ensure that Illinois Coal remains a viable part of the mix for generating power in the Midwest and the nation," said DCCA director Pam McDonough.

"We have seen some positive developments in recent weeks, and the purpose of this conference is to sustain the momentum we have," McDonough added. "This afternoon, a major energy co-operative will announce their participation in a project that the state committed $25 million to last year. It involves a low-emission boiler system demonstration project in Elkhart that will involve an 80 mega watt power generation station."

In addition to the state's commitment to coal bond funding and research, Commonwealth Edison has donated $25 million to the cause as a result of the sale of its fossil fuel generating stations. Southern Illinois University has established a Clean Coal Review Board to oversee the development and implementation of projects funded from the grant.

Seven innovative clean-coal projects last week won financial backing totaling $9.25 million from the Clean Coal Review Board for high-tech improvements at mines and electric utilities in central and southern Illinois.

"The projects' technologies and applications are quite diverse: from coal cleaning and gasification at the mine site to new coal combustion at commercial and utility settings," said SIUC Interim Chancellor John S. Jackson. "This diversity demonstrates the wide range of markets that will be open to Illinois coal as clean-coal technologies gain acceptance across the country."

A thumbnail sketch of each funded project:

  • Ashworth Combuster Demonstration, Lincoln, $1 million.
    This project will demonstrate a break-through, three-stage, pulverized coal combustion technology. Lime or limestone will be added with coal in the first stage to remove a high percentage of sulfur and ash before the fuel gas enters the boiler furnace.

  • Arclar Central Preparation Plant and Coal Handling System, Equality, $2 million.
    Funds will be used to build a preparation plant that uses state-of-the-art washing technologies to clean coal before it is shipped to market.

  • Close-Coupled Gasification Microgeneration Power Plants, Elkhart and Coulterville, $2 million.
    Funds will assist in the construction of two complete facilities that use fine coal waste during gasificiation to generate electricity at the mine sites. The goal is to use what would otherwise be a waste product to provide energy, lowering the mines' operating costs and making them more competitive.

  • Prairie Energy Project, Elkhart, $2 million.
    The project will develop a slagging furnace with low nitrous oxide emissions while producing beneficial ash. The project aims to boost consumption of Illinois coal and demonstrate a clean-coal technology viable for larger electric utilities.

  • Installation of Advanced Fine Coal Cleaning Equipment, Pattiki Mine's preparation plant in Carmi, $1 million.
    The goal is to replace an inefficient fine coal air separator with new, advanced fine coal processing equipment. The new system will reduce the coal's sulfur dioxide emissions while improving the plant's ability to recover the by-product.

  • Demonstration of a Coal Industrial Park for Illinois Coal Industry Enhancement, Elkhart, $250,000.
    Sounthern Illinois University mining engineers will study the feasibility of a new total-concept mine facility that would encompass environmentally friendly coal extraction, cleaning, processing and power generation at a single location.

  • Marion Circulating Fluidized Bed Boiler Repowering Project, near Marion, $1 million.
    This electric utility will install a clean, coal-fired fluidized bed combustion system large enough to replace three older, coal-fired power units.


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