Farris Willingham
GHG Monitor

The Department of Energy this week awarded grants to nine universities for R&D projects that will aid in the creation of “innovative” clean coal technologies, the Department said. The projects will concentrate on developing high-temperature, high-pressure corrosion-resistant alloys, protective coatings and structural materials for coal-fired power plants and gas turbines, according to DOE. “These university research projects will help build on extensive progressive made by this Administration to promote innovative technologies that help make coal-fired energy cleaner and more cost-competitive, while training the next generation of scientists and engineers in cutting-edge clean coal technologies,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement.

Universities receiving $300,000 grants include:

  • Brown University—to research the possibility of two-layer, air plasma-sprayed thermal barrier coatings that will improve their durability, affordability and manufacturability;
  • Dartmouth College—to examine strengthened iron-based austenitic steels alloyed with aluminum for improved oxidation resistance;
  • Indiana University—to create computational models to analyze the pyrochlore oxide-based, double-layer coating designed to improve high-temperature corrosion resistance;
  • Ohio State University—to study new types of steel capable of functioning at high temperatures of 760 degrees Celsius in advanced ultra-supercritical boilers and steam turbines;
  • Southern Illinois University—to verify the novel use of titanium carbide and titanium diboride powders as coatings for enhanced corrosion protection on boiler and turbine components;
  • Texas Engineering Experiment Station—to make new austenitic stainless steels with ultrahigh strength, ductility, high temperature strength, deformation and corrosion resistance;
  • University of North Texas—to produce a new computer-designed, nickel-chromium alloy to be utilized in advanced coal-fired power plants that operate at high temperatures;
  • University of Tennessee—to conduct analyses on the high-entropy alloy (HEA) system used in boilers and steam and gas turbines that reach temperatures above 760 degrees Celsius. It also will develop an integrated method and concentrated experiments to determine HEAs’ capability of outperforming conventional alloys; and
  • University of Toledo—to plan material processing techniques for two novel groups of oxygen-carrier materials based on crystal structure.

Clean Coal Awards Come Amid GOP Criticism

The announcement comes several weeks after Republicans sharply criticized President Obama’s commitment to his self-proclaimed ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy. During a hearing last month, House Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) noted that coal was absent from the energy strategy section of Obama’s reelection website. Republicans in Congress criticized the omission as a sign of the Obama Administration’s “war on coal.” A ‘clean coal’ tab was quietly added to Obama’s collection of energy strategies days later, also generating criticism from political foes. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said people “should not be surprised” by the move. “The linchpin of his energy strategy is to pursue policies that disadvantage time-tested, affordable, reliable energy products derived from our abundant, domestic resources of coal and other fossil fuels,” he said.