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ERC researchers featured on NPR



Hugo Caram and Shivaji Sircar's carbon-capture design.

Two faculty members are featured in a series of reports on clean coal technology that were broadcast this week on WHYY-FM and posted to the radio station’s website. WHYY is the National Public Radio affiliate in Philadelphia.

Edward Levy, director of Lehigh’s Energy Research Center (ERC), and Hugo Caram, professor of chemical engineering and member of the ERC, were interviewed for the program, “Coal’s comeback,” which was aired Oct. 20, 21 and 22.

Levy, also a professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics, was quoted in the first segment of the series, “Clean Coal Challenge.” Levy urged politicians to “have the patience and the will” to provide funds for research leading to the development and demonstration of new technologies and the construction of new commercial units.

Caram, professor of chemical engineering, was interviewed in the second segment of the series, “Clean Coal’s Tech Hurdle.” Caram spoke about research that he and Shivaji Sircar, professor of chemical engineering at Lehigh, are conducting in an effort to capture carbon-dioxide from coal-fired power plants.

The two researchers are testing a type of sponge that captures carbon dioxide. One challenge they face is that it takes more energy to produce environmentally friendly fuels. Caram said it may take 10 to 20 years and a national effort on the scale of the construction of the interstate highway system before “clean coal” becomes a reality.

The third segment of the series was titled “Gas in Coal Country.”

Coal-fired power plants produce half of the electricity consumed in the United States. The plants emit carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, as well as mercury, sulfur-dioxide and other pollutants. U.S. coal reserves are abundant enough to last 250 years at present rates of consumption, according to estimates by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Researchers at Lehigh’s ERC, which was established 35 years ago, have led the way in developing, testing and patenting new technologies that enable coal to burn more cleanly and more efficiently.

--Kurt Pfitzer


Posted on Friday, October 24, 2008

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