WVU partnership with Chinese company targets clean energy discoveries

By Carrie Salls | Nov 9, 2016

MORGANTOWN – A new partnership between West Virginia University and China Shenhua Energy Co. is expected to promote discoveries that could provide cleaner, cheaper energy to countries across the globe.

Officials from WVU and a delegation from Shenhua met in Morgantown on Oct. 27 to create a partnership focused on the development of clean energy technologies. University Provost Joyce McConnell signed a memorandum of understanding with Wang Shumin, senior vice president of Shenhua.


“One major benefit of the partnership is to be able to test and pilot technologies in China that can be used in West Virginia once the technology is proven,” Brian Anderson, director of the WVU Energy Institute, told The West Virginia Record.


U.S. Rep. David B. McKinley, a Republican who serves West Virginia’s First Congressional District, visited China last fall and met with Shenhua’s chairman and president to see their operations firsthand.


“Our mission has been to diversify the economy through research so we can grow the number of good paying jobs here in West Virginia,” McKinley told The West Virginia Record. “The signing of this agreement is a welcome development because the partnership between Shenhua and West Virginia University will help achieve that goal.”


WVU said in a news release the partnership will promote collaboration on technology innovation, education and training exchanges and joint energy business development across the university's Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, College of Business and Economics, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, and the College of Law.


The school said the partnership also will enable WVU to have a closer relationship with Shenhua as a strategic partner in energy issues.


Shenhua has business interests in coal production, renewable energy, power generation, railroads, ports and seaborne shipments, as well as coal conversion and chemical production, including research and development and demonstrations.


WVU and Shenhua have a long history of collaboration, including joint research and development, training and educational exchanges.


Anderson said the WVU/Shenhua relationship began more than 10 years ago with collaborative projects in converting coal into chemicals and liquid fuels.


“We have held technical exchanges and training programs between China and the U.S., with the US Department of Education sending representatives to Shenhua and Shenhua sending executives to the U.S.,” Anderson said.


WVU said the new partnership demonstrates its global leadership in the energy resources, mining and environment sectors.


Specifically, Anderson said WVU and the Shenhua Group will be partnering on research efforts that cut across different types of clean energy technologies, including advanced combustion of coal, carbon capture utilization and storage, natural gas production and use.


Anderson said the partnership allows the parties to “work together on developing technologies that lower the environmental impact of coal power generation, plus developing carbon capture and sequestration technologies that can be used for natural gas, as well as coal power generation.”


The Shenhua Group also has opened the National Institute for Clean, low-carbon Energy (NICE) in Beijing and Mountain View, Calif. Anderson said WVU will be working with NICE on additional clean energy technologies, such as wind and solar, that could be deployed as well as manufactured in West Virginia.


Anderson said WVU researchers are very active in developing many different clean energy technologies as well as performing research into opportunities for economic development and diversification of the West Virginia economy through clean energy technologies.


Active research in the Davis College is developing pathways to use woody biomass resources as a fuel source and optimizing biocrops to be used on reclaimed surface mine lands across the state, Anderson said. Additionally, he said WVU has been conducting extensive research in geothermal exploration and development and wind turbine design.


“Materials development research at WVU is improving solar panel efficiency and using sunlight to create liquid fuels from CO2,” Anderson said.

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