New effort to increase coal production announced

on of oil, accounting for 25 percent of the total trade deficit. And this number jumped to approximately $109 billion for the year 2000.

Conversely, the trend for the U.S. exportation of coal has declined. The United States sold 102 million tons of coal valued at $4.2 billion in 1992 to overseas markets. By 1999 the export level fell to a record low of 57 million tons, valued at only $2.1 billion. Yoon attributes this loss in market share to Australian coal producers, who have "improved their productivity through technology development. And other competitors from the European Union countries are heavily subsidized by their governments, thus limiting opportunities for U.S. coal in Western Europe."

Yoon firmly believes the United States can rely on more of its own assets. U.S. coal accounted for the generation of some 51 percent of the electricity usage in the United States in 1999, and the retail price of this coal was estimated to be $111 billion, according to the U.S. Coal Supply and Demand 1999 Review. With improved separation technologies, coal usage would increase, he says.

In general, Yoon explains, separation technologies account for 40 to 70 percent of the capital and operating costs of the many industries. "Therefore, improving separation efficiencies and reducing critical technology barriers should result in energy savings, minimize pollution, create new markets and increase the rate of returns on investment," Yoon says.

"The advanced separation technologies to be developed at CAST can be used to recover the coal that currently sits in refuse ponds due to the high processing cost. At the same time, these refuse ponds will be cleaned-up, minimizing the environmental impact of mining," Yoon says. He hopes to also see these technologies exported to China and India where much of the mined coal is burned without cleaning. "This would help increase the combustion efficiency and thereby reduce the global sulfur dioxide emissions."

Yoon and his colle

Contact: Roe-Hoan Yoon
Virginia Tech

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