Is There a High-Tech Future for Coal?
ME-EM Graduate Seminar Speaker Series
Dr. Eric Eddings
Associate Dean for Research, College of Engineering
Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering
University of Utah
Abstract: Coal is an abundant natural resource that provides an alternative source for carbon‐, hydrocarbon‐ or hydrogen‐based products. In addition, there are a variety of inorganic materials associated with coal, many of which have significant economic value. In the past, coal has been utilized primarily for its energy content; i.e., combustion of coal to release heat, which can then be converted to work to produce electricity (e.g., Rankine steam cycle). The use of coal in this manner has long been popular for electric power production due to its historically low cost. However, climate concerns, the increased availability of low‐cost natural gas, and the rapid expansion of solar and wind power installations have resulted in dramatic reductions in coal production throughout the U.S. over the past 10 years. This decrease in coal production has led to the bankruptcies of several large coal companies and has caused significant economic hardships for coal‐mining communities. Thus, there is great interest in identifying alternate uses for coal that would be compatible with a carbon‐constrained economy.
This presentation will focus on the potential for producing an array of high‐value products from coal, as an additional or alternate pathway for coal use. A specific example that will be discussed is research underway at the University of Utah to produce coal‐derived pitch, which is then converted into carbon fiber for composite materials.
Bio: Dr. Eric G. Eddings is the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering, and is a Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Utah, where he has been employed since 1998.
Dr. Eddings is engaged in research that ranges from fundamental lab‐scale investigations through pilot‐scale process evaluation of new energy‐related technologies. Recent research includes: production of carbon fiber from coal‐derived pitch; use of TiO2 nanotubes for photo‐electro‐catalytic oxidation of coal for hydrogen production; upgrading renewable biomass materials for use in co‐firing with coal; oxy‐coal combustion to facilitate CO2 capture.
Prior to joining the University of Utah, Eric spent six years with Reaction Engineering International (REI), a consulting/R&D firm, serving as Senior Engineer, Manager, and then as Vice President. Prior to graduate school, Eric spent six years working for Sperry‐Univac (later renamed Unisys Corporation) in the manufacture of multi‐layer printed circuit boards for large mainframe computers.
Invited by: Ezra Bar‐Ziv
Thursday, December 6 at 4:00 pm
Electrical Energy Resources Center (EERC), 103
1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931