Wyoming has announced a new partnership with Japan focusing on carbon technology research.
The Wyoming Infrastructure Authority entered into a memo of understanding with the Japan Coal Energy Center (JCOAL), the group that represents the country's coal industry under the supervision of Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry.
This is the second partnership that Wyoming has entered into with Japan to focus on carbon research. The first project was announced last year and targets carbon capture with Kawasaki Heavy Industries, one of the companies that plan to start testing its carbon technology at the Wyoming Integrated Test Center (ITC) in Gillette in 2021.
For this project, Japan will be working with Columbia University in New York on carbon utilization technology that would potentially transform carbon into a synthetic limestone for building.
Executive Director of the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority Jason Begger said this is good for Wyoming because it could potentially create a big market for the coal industry.
"Hopefully, this provides another avenue in the United States for saying this is proven, that these technologies can come in, capture that carbon, manage it effectively, and can hopefully overcome some of these concerns regarding carbon emissions and climate change," he said.
Begger said Japan will benefit by acquiring technology to lower its carbon emissions and having a new source of building material as it continues to grow.
He said this is a good example of international partners working together and that Wyoming is focused on the future.
"It has really raised the awareness of what we're doing within the state and reinforces that we're solutions-based, like what can we do as a state to promote opportunity and ensure the resources in our state can be used responsibly for a long time," Begger said.
The state is providing the facilities for testing at the ITC, the technology is owned by Columbia University and Japan will fund the project. Begger said officials from the groups will meet in the coming months to outline the research project.
The partnership between Wyoming and Japan on carbon research dates back to 2016, when former Gov. Matt Mead and the president of JCOAL signed a commitment to cooperate on research development of coal technologies.