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OU, state reveal clean coal plan

AP and staff reports

ATHENS – Ohio University hopes to lead the country in reforming coal-fired power plant emissions, banking on a new technology it will use in its own campus power plant.

Tuesday, April 24, 2001

ATHENS – Ohio University hopes to lead the country in reforming coal-fired power plant emissions, banking on a new technology it will use in its own campus power plant.

The new technology will reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from coal, which could make Ohio a leader in exporting energy to other states, as well as protect coal mining jobs, officials said Monday.

State and OU officials unveiled the plan as they broke ground on an addition to the school’s Lausche Power Plant that will produce energy using the new technology through December 2002. Parts of the effort already are under way at the existing plant.

It’s the first test of the process in an operating plant, said Gary North, OU’s vice president of administration and coordinator for the project.

It will have to produce emissions that meet Environ-mental Protection Agency standards before it can be put into wider use, North said.

OU expects the project to become a model for similar plants in Ohio and elsewhere, something Gov. Bob Taft lauded at the groundbreaking.

"It’s great to see that this innovative technology was developed right here in Ohio," Taft said. "The project will help keep Ohio energy costs at reasonable rates, which is a crucial issue for our state and the rest of the nation."

Mike Carey, president of the Ohio Coal Association, agreed, saying that clean coal technology is the answer to America’s energy problems.

”We don’t have to rely on foreign sources for coal. We can help solve the energy problems of the nation.”

The process, developed by Sorbent Technologies of Twinsburg, involves adding chemicals to the coal emissions as they go through the plant’s flue stream, North said.

The chemicals absorb the sulfur and filter impurities from the emissions, creating a byproduct that can be captured and reused as a fertilizer, North said.

The end result should be a cleaner burning coal that could help the Lausche plant reduce sulfur dioxide omissions by 85 percent and save OU about $1 million annually in energy costs, the Ohio Department of Development said.

The process also should allow power plants to use more Ohio coal, which is higher in sulfur and often doesn’t meet Ohio EPA pollution standards.

”Ohio can become an energy producing state,” Carey said. ”Power companies could locate in Ohio, use the coal and ship the energy out of state.”

The Lausche Power Plant was built in 1966 and produces most of the power for 190 buildings on Ohio University’s campus, school spokesman Jack Jeffery said.