Is E-Coal E-Cool?

NewEarth Renewable Energy is moving from development to true commercializatio of its ECO Clean Coal or E-Coal.  NewEarth is promoting E-Coal as a green coal supplement or, even, substitute.   E-Coal comes from processed biomass such as trees, seaweed, algae, bamboo, switchgrass or otherwise.  The process: “Eco Torrefactio” and “ECO-Densification” which process the biomass into a coal subsitute that can be made into basically any Btus per ton to match the coal that a plant would be using anyways.

What does E-Coal offer? This is biomass (a renewable fuel) that go directly into coal-boilers, displacing on a lb for pound basis coal being burned without any special infrastructure for moving between non-eco coal and E-Coal or for mixing them.  Facing a 20 percent renewable standard, for example, a utility could decide to replace simply replace 20% of its fossil fuel coal with E-Coal, without changing any other processes or establishing a new infrastructure.   

This is a quite exciting prospect for traditional coal-fired electricity plant operators looking at the growing likelihood of carbon limitations and the increasing renewable portfolio standards across the nation. In addition, the (claimed) low polluting nature of E-Coal might obviate requirements for pollution abatement devices as the E-Coal has no mercury or sulphur content. 

Even more attractive is the potential of ‘retiring’ coal-fired electricity plants.   The plants can be ‘shut down’, cleaned out, and restarted using 100% E-Coal.  Once there is no fossil fuel coal in the system, the ash can be used as fertilizer, even potentially as terra preta/biochar for enriching the soil and achieving some carbon capture — potentially moving this from a rough carbon-neutral to a carbon negative process for generating electricity. 

Right now, E-Coal is in three UK plants (two at 10% mixes, one at 20%), ‘secret’ testing at a New York plant, and is going to start a test in Italy soon.  In Italy, a 5 mw plant will run 100% with E-Coal as part of NewEarth’s test program.

The price is right … NOW

But the order book is open as NewEarth evidently is really working to burst into the marketplace. Per ton, they’re ready to sign contracts starting at $55 / ton. That is, for companies in the program before 25 April.  (Earth Day, anyone?) After that, the price rises to $90 / ton.   (Note that non-E Coal (that polluting, fossil fuel sort) ranges from about $14-80 pound before delivery costs.)  They are trying to build the order book, as their biomass feed cycle is roughly three years from planting to burning for power at the plant.

As per New Earth, “Something you should know …”

Because coal burning plants are the #1 cause of Global Warming, only until we sincerely address this problem will any significant change to reduce the negative effects of Global warming be made. It is for this reason NewEarth created and now offers E-Coal to the world.

If, someone can help solve Global Warming and they happen to get rich doing so, may then live a long and healthy life. Let us hope that NewEarth and E-Coal live up to the promise of advertising brochures and booth discussions at the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) trade show.

Chill out for a moment

Now, before too much excitement. E-Coal faces all the challenges and concerns of biomass to energy versus, potentially, food production and/or a sustainable environment.  And, E-Coal is no silver bullet, to handle everything. E-Coal won’t replace all coal. (For 12 square miles of forest area, NewEarth claims that they can produce 1 million tons of E-Coal per year.  This would be roughly 1/1100th the 2006 coal production.) But, turning the discussion, this is a bridging strategy, enabling a lowering of coal-pollution while developing and deploying paths to eliminate the requirement for dirty coal in the US energy picture.

2 responses to “Is E-Coal E-Cool?

  1. Let me correct a couple of things here for you we would not want to go spreading misinformation. Biochar is unburned charcoal made from biomass that has been tilled back into the earth , it is not in any way shape or form ash from fuel burned in a power plant. the way to achieve Carbon negative bio energy is to convert biomass with pyrolysis to biooil and char. then, only when the char is returned to the earth can you claim “carbon negative” that’s not cheap and its not easy, So don’t cheapen it with stretches of the truth.

  2. Don,

    I appreciate the comment and adding of the information.

    Now, please do read the words, “potentially” was there rather than “will” for a reason. And, to be clear, to give them credit, this was my supposition without full understanding of their processes and the opportunities/requirements of their processes. The “stretch” is my responsibility, as a supposition. And, as you point out/emphasize, this supposition of a possibility might have been suggesting something that simply would not be possible with E-Coal.

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