June 10, 2010 Businessweek.com
A consortium of five universities (including West Virginia University) is testing possible new methods for removing moisture from coal slurry, state lawmakers heard Tuesday at a committee meeting that heard about emerging technologies. A session of a joint interim committee received updates on research advances and also the continuing complains of constituents who say a coal byproduct has polluted their drinking water. Washing coal with water and chemicals helps it burn more efficiently, but leaves behind a wastewater containing heavy metals and other toxins. Coal operators store this slurry in ponds or inject it into worked-out underground mines. Injection relies on troughs dug into sealed mine voids, which in theory hold the waste and allow solids to settle to the bottom. West Virginia University, part of Yoon’s consortium, has been studying whether underground injection poses a threat to human health.