ATHENS, Ohio -- Ohio Rep. Jimmy Stewart, Executive Director of the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority Mark Shanahan and Director of the Ohio Coal Development Office Jacqueline Bird visited Ohio University on Friday, Jan. 9 to take a closer look at some of the university's latest clean coal research projects.
During the visit, the group learned more about Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Dave Bayless' coal fuel cell program and visited the hydrogen and electrochemical laboratory of Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering Gerri Botte and Research Engineer Andres Marquez.
"All you hear about is how far southeastern Ohio is behind the rest of the nation in technology, but the truth is, Ohio University and this area is on the cutting edge in clean coal and alternative energy research," Stewart said.
The electrochemical research project involves creating nitrogen and hydrogen by stimulating ammonia, water and potassium hydroxide. Large quantities of ammonia can be obtained from wastewater treatment plants across the nation.
The hydrogen experiment involved heating up a coal and water mixture to create hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Hydrogen is being researched as an alternative fuel source and could eventually replace such things like gasoline in vehicles.
"It blows your mind to think that one day we won't depend on the Middle East for oil," Stewart said. "The hydrogen process would truly change the world if most automobiles ran on it rather than gasoline."
The group was also pleased to see the progress of the Sorbent Technology project at the Lausche Heating Plant. The cutting edge clean-coal burning plant is near completion and official testing of the process that takes dangerous chemicals out of the gas produced from burning coal is scheduled to begin in February. The process will allow the university to burn coal cleaner and cheaper than ever.
"According a recent college study, every $1 of coal sold generates $24 of ancillary economic benefits and every coal mining job generates 11 additional jobs," said Sherwood Wilson, Ohio University associate vice president for facilities and auxiliaries. "This Sorbent process has a real chance to catch on, because it will allow small to medium power plants to burn high-sulfur coal much less expensively than gas and still remain under EPA guidelines for emissions."
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Editors: A photo of Rep. Stewart sharing a laugh with Ohio University Associate Vice President for Facilities Management and Auxiliaries Sherwood Wilson can be found at www.ohiou.edu/news/pix/coal.jpg