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2007 Press Releases
April 27, 2007 - U.S. to Test New Coal Mine Methane Venting Technology - System Can Turn Problem into Asset
EPA Support for Technology Demonstration Project to Reduce Ventilation Air Methane Emissions from Coal Mines and Provide a New Source of Clean Energy
EPA is supporting the first-ever U.S. demonstration of a technology to mitigate methane emissions from coal mine ventilation air. Pittsburgh-based CONSOL Energy is hosting the demonstration. Sequa Corporation's MEGTEC Systems of DePere, Wisc., has provided the technology for the demonstration.
During the winter and spring of 2007, project partners prepared and installed the technology at the Windsor Mine Portal, an abandoned mine site in West Liberty, West Virginia. The photo below shows the installation of a thermal flow-reversal reactor at the site of the EPA-funded technology demonstration. The demonstration program will last for about eight months.
Photo courtesy of CONSOL Energy
TFRRs have been commercially used to oxidize low-concentration volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in many industrial applications, typically for odor abatement. Using this technology to mitigate relatively low concentrations of methane in the dilute exhaust air from coal mine ventilation shafts is an innovative application.
The technology heats the exhaust gas to 1000 degrees Celsius and converts the methane to carbon dioxide and water. The heat produced in this process can then be used directly, or it can be used to generate electricity.
Typically, coal mine ventilation shafts exhaust methane at concentrations of about 1%. Some TFRRs can sustainably mitigate methane emissions in a coal mine exhaust stream at concentrations as low as 0.15% methane.
Thermal Flow-Reversal Reactor Schematic
The diagram above shows a schematic of a simplified TFRR. It consists of a bed of silica gravel or ceramic heat-exchange medium with a set of electric heating elements in the center. To start the operation, the electric heating elements preheat the middle of the bed to the temperature required to begin methane oxidation (above 1,000°C [1,832°F]). Ventilation air, including methane gas (CH4), enters at ambient temperature and flows through the reactor in one direction; its temperature increases until oxidation of the methane takes place near the center of the bed. The products of oxidation (air, CO2, H2O, and heat) continue through the bed, losing heat to the far side of the bed in the process.