Great River Energy marks milestones for coal drying process

Great River Energy noted in a Feb. 5 statement that December marked two historic milestones for its DryFining coal technology: its five-year anniversary of operation; and by the end of the year, over 30 million tons of lignite had been dried and refined, more than any other drying technology in the world.

“Our member-owners has asked us to generate electricity that is increasingly competitive and cleaner, and DryFining is helping us move in a big way in that direction. Plus, it could help other power plant owners and operators do the same throughout the world,” said John Weeda, leader of North Dakota generation for Great River Energy.

The seed for the concept of the DryFining System was planted in 1997 when engineers at Great River Energy’s Coal Creek Station were looking at technology improvements to increase efficiencies and reduce emissions at the power plant. Early research led to Great River Energy’s participation in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Coal Power Initiative Round 1 in February 2003. Successful performance of the “Lignite Fuel Enhancement System” resulted in commercialization of the technology in December 2009.

Through the DryFining technology, Great River Energy has successfully increased the value of lignite, resulting in increased efficiencies and reduced emissions at Coal Creek Station. It has also made the cost of electricity more competitive, benefiting consumers. Basically, waste heat from the power plant is used to dry the high-moisture lignite, allowing a higher-Btu lignite to be fed into the power plant, increasing plant efficiency.

Commissioner Brian Kalk, who holds the electricity generation and transmission portfolio for the North Dakota Public Service Commission, said: “Congratulations to Great River Energy for their efforts in innovation of our natural resources. Coal is vital to the future of energy, and Great River Energy’s DryFining technology is making coal-fired power generation cleaner and more efficient across the world. New, emerging technologies such as this are required in order to meet the growing demands of energy as well as to allow future generations to use the Earth’s extensive coal resources for reliable, affordable and clean energy.”

Great River Energy provides wholesale electric service to 28 distribution cooperatives in Minnesota and Wisconsin. North Dakota’s largest power plant, Coal Creek features two units with a total capacity of more than 1,100 MW. The plant is located about 50 miles north of Bismarck, North Dakota, near the city of Underwood. The plant’s lignite is supplied by the adjoining Falkirk Mine.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.