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February 10th, 2012

Engineer Yulong Zhang shows off a vial of pure methanol in the board room at the Western Research Institute, with Vijay Sethi (left) and Thomas Barton (center).
Methanol Vial/ credit: Rebecca Martinez
Engineer Yulong Zhang shows off a vial of pure methanol in the board room at the Western Research Institute, with Vijay Sethi (left) and Thomas Barton (center).

Listen to the whole show

Company proposes boosting Wyoming’s energy economy with coal-to-oil plant
The town of Medicine Bow is currently planning for a DKRW proposed coal to liquids conversion facility. The plant would be a financial boom for the state and bring jobs to the county. But this isn’t the first time Wyoming is looking into a project that would add value to its coal so it’s undergoing close scrutiny.

The Science of Syngas
DKRW Advanced Fuels has licensed technology from GE and Exxon-Mobil to transform coal into gasoline at a proposed plant in Medicine Bow. But theirs is just one system of creating liquid fuel. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez spoke with some experts about how synthetic gas, or syngas, is made.

South African syngas allays oil supply worries, but at an environmental cost
Africa has been producing coal-to-liquid synfuels for the past 50 years. What started as a state-owned enterprise quickly became a commercial cash cow when the regime changed hands in 1994. Now, the company that’s been producing the synfuels locally has become the world leader in coal-to-liquid fuel technology – but not so much in environmental sustainability.  Diana Neille reports from Johannesburg, South Africa.

Coal-to-oil raises long-term environmental questions despite plans to capture CO2
As we’ve just heard, existing coal-to-liquids plants emit a lot of greenhouse gases. But the proposed Medicine Bow plant is being touted as exceptionally green. Still, environmentalists have concerns about the plant’s effect on air quality and water reserves. And even if this plant is comparatively eco-friendly, future facilities may not have any incentive to follow suit.

Energy Journalist weighs in on DKRW
The Editor and Chief of the on-line publication WyoFile has been busying covering the D-K-R-W project since it was first proposed.  Dustin Bleizeffer has also written about other clean coal projects and he says this one actually might come to fruition.

DKRW turns to the state to finance Medicine Bow plant
proposal to build a coal to liquids plant in Medicine Bow is a big deal for many reasons. It’s a major facility, the first of its kind in the United States, it promises to provide jobs and tax revenue to the state, and its completion could be a major boost to the energy industry. But before any of that happens, it’s a big deal in Wyoming because DKRW is asking for help to finance the project.

With An Uninterested Private Sector, Federal Loans May Be Only Option For DKRW
proposal to build a coal-to-liquids plant in Medicine Bow may provide jobs and tax revenue to the state… and could be a major boost to the energy industry. But with DKRW requesting a 1.7 billion dollar loan from the Department of Energy, one big question comes up: should the federal government make decisions about investing in questionable technology that the market has never wanted to invest in. Wyoming Public Radio’s Tristan Ahtone reports.

Medicine Bow readies for a boom
really isn’t much to Medicine Bow.  It house roughly 280 residents and the town is just a few blocks long.  It has some abandoned buildings that show some semblance of a downtown from years past.  The two main drags are highways that take the majority to travelers to Laramie, Casper and Rawlins.  But if the D-K-R-W project actually gets underway, things could change.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck has more.

Medicine Bow residents warily optimistic about proposed DKRW plant
Most residents we spoke with seem to be excited about the opportunities DKRW could bring. Wyoming Public Radio's Sara Hossaini heard from some of them.

Bob Beck retired from Wyoming Public Media after serving as News Director of Wyoming Public Radio for 34 years. During his time as News Director WPR has won over 100 national, regional and state news awards.