BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – A joint research project between George Washington University and Mississippi State University has developed a new process that can convert coal into fertilizer. The project also included a WVU Tech engineering student who was involved in the effort over the past year.
The universities met for a conference at WVU Tech to discuss the research effort.
Local leaders with the project spoke on the potential impact it could have on the coal industry.
“We’ve tried to find new ways to use it so it doesn’t disappear,” Local project coordinator Ron Hedrick said. And then we continue to create jobs, and bring new energy and other resources that coal could be used for.”
The WVU tech student involved, Tanner Myers, was given $1,000 to put towards his education as a reward for his efforts on the project.
The process of converting the coal into a clean fertilizer is complex. Simply put, you take the coal, grind it to a smaller size, chemically treat it, and then dry it.
Myers says learning about the process of converting coal to a clean fertilizer was a very rewarding experience.
“Once you use it as a soil amendment, it’s clean in the ground,” Myers said. “It’s not leaching out chemicals in the ground like other commercial fertilizers. But it’s also clean in production because it uses solar energy for drying.”
Local leaders emphasized the impact this process could have on West Virginia. They say the technology has potential to amplify and renew West Virginia’s use of coal. The state is one of the largest producers of coal in the nation, and nearly 90% of the state is powered by coal.
According to researchers, the new process can turn this fossil fuel into something that can help the environment and the economy in the years to come.