The state of North Dakota and the continent of Australia have one thing in common: vast amounts of lignite coal reserves. In fact, they rank as the top two known reserves of brown coal in the world.
Now they have something else in common: a partnership to explore and exchange research and development information that can help reduce emissions and increase efficiencies of coal conversion facilities that use lignite.
Representatives of the Lignite Energy Council, based in Bismarck, ND, and the Brown Coal Innovation Australia (BCIA) based in Melbourne, Australia, signed a reciprocal membership agreement on October 28, 2013. The agreement states that the two parties intend to “harness their complimentary resources and expertise to develop and pursue cooperative activities associated with coal.”
The Lignite Energy Council has had a research and development program dating back into the 1980s. The North Dakota Industrial Commission is a partner with the lignite industry in the R&D program. For every state dollar invested in R&D, a total of six dollars is invested by other sources. The state money comes from a tax on coal mined in the state and a percentage of the coal conversion tax. Many of the projects currently underway focus on ways to reduce, capture and store carbon dioxide from coal-based power plants.
BCIA is also currently engaged in projects to develop low-emissions, low-cost coal technologies and novel, high-value products derived from low-rank coals, such as lignite.
“We’re excited about this partnership,” stated Jason Bohrer, president and chief executive officer of the Lignite Energy Council. “Through a strategic planning process completed by our board of directors, we have been studying international R&D groups that we could partner with in order to leverage the benefits of our existing R&D program.”
Mike Jones, PhD., vice president of research and development for the Lignite Energy Council announced that a delegation of engineers and researchers from regional companies with lignite facilities will be traveling to Australia for discussions and to review Australian R&D projects and determine their applicability to North Dakota facilities.
In addition, the two organizations agree to support a travel scholarship to contribute toward the cost of travel between the United States and Australia for researchers working on collaborative research.