Minneapolis, June 20, 2010 — A process that efficiently converts coal into clean burning energy has been developed and is commercially available from Bixby Energy Systems, Inc., a Minneapolis-based new-energy technology development company.
The patent-pending Bixby Process superheats coal in a closed-loop environment to produce high-quality synthetic natural gas. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, utilities that run on synthetic natural gas produce up to 65 percent fewer carbon emissions compared to those that burn coal.
Unlike competitive “clean-coal” solutions, the need for an elaborate, expensive and unproven carbon capture and sequestration infrastructure is eliminated with the Bixby Process.
Founded in 2001 by lifelong visionary and entrepreneur Robert Walker, best known as the innovator of the “Sleep Number” bed made by Select Comfort Corp., a company he founded more than 23 years ago, Bixby Energy Systems has been researching and testing clean energy technologies for nine years.
The company believes that its technologies offer the potential to provide clean, inexpensive natural gas derived from one of the world’s most plentiful resources — without the additional environmental damage generally associated with coal-based energy production.
The Bixby Process currently features a system called devolitization that superheats coal without burning it in a sealed environment which prevents carbon emissions from being emitted into the air. This separates the coal into clean synthetic natural gas (syngas) and semi-activated carbon without the heavy carbon emissions normally associated with current coal burning or other gasification technologies. The technology does not consume water (although it does use it), and creates no effluent or waste byproducts as a result of the process other than natural gas and semi-activated carbon.
Initial payments on three orders representing millions of dollars in revenue for Bixby’s devolitization system have already been received from customers in China. The company is in the process of producing these units, the first of which is currently being readied for shipment.
Coal represents an overwhelming majority of America’s major fossil fuel reserves. In fact, the U.S. has the largest coal reserves in the world with 27 percent of the world’s supply according to the Institute for the 21st Century Energy, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Based on current U.S. coal consumption habits, it is estimated by the U.S. Energy Information Administration that this supply could last another 250 years or more. Coal provides more energy density per pound than other forms of carbon-based feedstock.
There are coal reserves in at least 70 other countries of the world. This means that regardless of other power sources available, coal will continue to play a vital role in supplying our electrical energy needs.
More than 50 percent of the electric energy in the U.S. alone comes from coal-fired power plants, which spew billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the air each year. It is estimated that emissions from these plants contribute 41 percent of the man-made pollution in the atmosphere.
The best coal-fired power plants today capture only about 38 percent of the potential energy in coal, whereas the Bixby Process can capture up to 80 percent.
Since Bixby Energy’s technology produces clean energy from coal — and ultimately any carbon-based material — it can use all coal types for its feedstock.
This means that coal which cannot be used by coal-fired technologies today because of their high sulfur content, for example, are readily usable with this technology.
“The United States has centuries’ worth of coal underground. Coal is thought to be a “Ëœdirty’ source of energy. But, in reality, coal is not the culprit. The carbon-emissions problem actually stems from the process of burning coal to produce energy which was developed more than 80 years ago,” said Mr. Walker.
“We are the only company to have developed a technology to tap into this energy source without creating significant carbon emissions and have proven it to be reproducible. We believe that the Bixby Process is the beginning of significant change to the way we retrieve, consume and price our energy needs.”