Reports, Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research

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  • Field Laboratory for Emerging Stacked Unconventional Plays (ESUP) in Central Appalachia: Highlights from Research Performance Progress Report 3
    (Virginia Tech, 2018)
    This summary report outlines accomplishments and activities for the ESUP (Emerging Stacked Unconventional Plays) project for the period of October 1, 2018 - December 31, 2018. The goal of ESUP is to investigate and characterize the resource potential for multi-play production of emerging unconventional gas reservoirs in Central Appalachia.
  • Field Laboratory for Emerging Stacked Unconventional Plays (ESUP) in Central Appalachia: Highlights from Research Performance Progress Report 1-2
    (Virginia Tech, 2018)
    This summary report outlines accomplishments and activities for the ESUP (Emerging Stacked Unconventional Plays) project for the period of April 1, 2018 - September 1, 2018. The goal of ESUP is to investigate and characterize the resource potential for multi-play production of emerging unconventional gas reservoirs in Central Appalachia.
  • Field Laboratory for Emerging Stacked Unconventional Plays (ESUP): Project No. DE-FE0031576
    Ripepi, Nino; Karmis, Michael E.; Chen, Cheng; Gilliland, Ellen; Nojabaei, Bahareh (Virginia Tech, 2018-08-24)
    The objective for this project is to investigate and characterize the resource potential for multi-play production of emerging unconventional reservoirs in Central Appalachia. The project team includes Virginia Tech; Virginia Center for Coal & Energy Research; Enervest Operating, LCC; Pashin Geoscience, LLC; and Gerald R. Hill, PhD, Inc. The anticipated duration of the project is April 1, 2018 - March 31, 2023.
  • Micrometer-scale Experimental Characterization of the Lower Huron Shale in the Central Appalachian Basin
    Tan, Xinyu; Gilliland, Ellen; Tang, Xu; Fan, Ming; Ripepi, Nino (American Geophysical Union, 2020)
    The mechanical properties of shale play an important role in hydraulic fracturing design. Although the popular nanoindentation method can be performed to evaluate some mechanical characteristics of organic matter, it is still difficult to fully characterize mechanical properties of organic components of shale due to their small scale which is usually on the order of micrometers or even nanometers. As a novel material characterization tool, Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) has shown great potential to characterize surface properties and pore structures at micrometer- and nanometer-scale and has been applied to investigate the elastic properties of organic components in shale by multiple researchers. Raman and FTIR can detect chemical bands by utilizing molecular vibration information. Because Raman and FTIR measurements are non-destructive, high sensitivity, and short in duration, they have been used extensively to study maturation processes of organic components in coal and shale samples. To some extent, these two methods can be considered as complementary to each other, and more comprehensive understanding about maturation processes of organic components can be achieved by combining these two methods. In this work, mechanical properties and chemical characteristics of four shale samples with different thermal maturities were investigated. Generally, this study had two objectives: (1) Characterize the mechanical properties of shale samples with different maturity levels through the novel AFM method, and (2) Explore the underlying cause for the change in elastic properties of shale samples from a chemical perspective through the complementary Raman and FTIR methods.
  • ARIES Research Summary
    Jong, Edmund C.; Boardman, Gregory D.; Karmis, Michael E. (Virginia Tech. Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research, 2019-01-03)
    In the mid-2000s, concerns were raised about the impact of Appalachian coal mining and especially mountaintop mining. These concerns were prompted by various research studies that alleged a direct link between coal mining and various negatively trending aspects of community health. Some studies related coal mining to higher rates of cancer and infant mortality. Other investigations claimed that coal mining perpetuated poverty and harms community character. These alarming reports prompted a significant public outcry that resulted in litigation and regulatory attention toward the coal industry. In response, a number of meetings and strategic sessions were held in 2009 and 2010 to address these concerns. Major Appalachian coal producers, coal associations, and essential coal infrastructure companies participated in these conferences. After rigorous debate, the participants decided to form an independent research program designed to address community concerns through objective, focused research. This program was designated the Appalachian Research Initiative for Environmental Science (ARIES). ARIES would be a research consortium designed to elicit the participation of major research universities across the U.S. The primary objective of this research collaboration would be to investigate the impacts of coal mining and energy production on Appalachian communities. To support this goal, ARIES adopted a research paradigm that delivered objective, robust, and transparent results though the support of industry. This paradigm was composed of four core principles: 1. Independent research conducted at universities 2. Wide dissemination of results through peer-reviewed publications 3. Realistic timeframes for research and reporting 4. Applying sound scientific principles
  • ARIES Executive Summary
    Jong, Edmund C.; Boardman, Gregory D.; Karmis, Michael E. (Virginia Tech. Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research, 2019-07-30)
    The following document contains an executive summary of key findings from the Appalachian Research Initiative for Environmental Science (ARIES). Further details for these findings may be found in the referenced peer-reviewed publications and project reports. The ARIES body of work was developed from 2011 to 2016. Thus, published ARIES results will not reflect any evolutions in policy and research that occurred after this timeframe. Although some issues may be different today, the breakthrough research conducted by the ARIES community continues to provide invaluable insights into these areas of interest.
  • Assessment of Virginia Coalfield Region Capability to Support an Electric Power Generation Industry
    Zipper, Carl E.; Henritze, Thomas K.; Randolph, John (Virginia Tech. Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research., 1994-01)
    This paper describes the results of research conducted to assess the capacity of the Virginia coalfields to support electric power generation facilities. The research also addressed potential economic impacts of power generation facilities.
  • An Examination of Policies to Promote Greater Use of Wood Processing Industry Wastes for Fuel in State Facilities
    Zipper, Carl E.; Muench, John (Virginia Tech. Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research., 1993)
    The 1992 House Joint Resolution 69 directed the Virginia Coal and Energy Commission, with the assistance of the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research (VCCER) and the Brooks Forest Products Center (BFPC), to "examine policies necessary to promote greater use of wood wastes for fuels by state facilities." This report contains the results of investigations conducted by VCCER and BFPC at the request of the Virginia Coal and Energy Commission to achieve the objectives of House Joint Resolution 69.
  • A Preliminary Feasibility Study of a New Electricity Transmission Line From the Virginia Coalfield to the Virginia Power System
    Center for Coal and Energy Research (Virginia Tech. Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research., 1992)
    Virginia House Joint Resolution No. 441 (February, 1991) directed the Virginia State Corporation Commission and the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research (VCCER) to "study means available, prior to 1998, to 'wheel' power produced by electric power plants in southwestern Virginia" to the Virginia Power transmission network, for purchase by Virginia Power. The Resolution directed that the VCCER study address new transmission line construction options that might be pursued "in addition to" the Wyoming - Cloverdale and Joshua Falls - Ladysmith transmission construction programs currently proposed by Appalachian Power Company (Apco) and Virginia Power. This report summarizes the results of the VCCER study.
  • Evaluation of the Virginia Weatherization Program
    Randolph, John; Greely, Katherine M.; Hill, William H. (Virginia Tech. Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research., 1991-11)
    Since its inception in 1975, the Virginia Weatherization Program has installed energy conservation measures in more than 60,000 low-income housing units. The program has been administered by the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS)1 with funds provided by the federal Weatherization Assistance Program in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and supplemented in recent years by state "oil overcharge" funds. Under contract to VOSS, the program is operated by the Virginia Association of Community Action Agencies, Inc. (VACAA), which issues subcontracts to local community action and other agencies (so-called "subgrantees") to implement the program at the local level. VACAA oversees local implementation by establishing installation standards for the energy conservation measures and procedures to be applied, inspecting and monitoring houses completed, and reimbursing local agencies for job completions based on the cost of materials put into the houses. For many years, VACAA based its installation standards on "Project Retro-Tech", a priority system developed by DOE. Recent advances in weatherization in other states convinced VACAA staff that some of the measures in Virginia's standards may not be as effective as other new measures. In 1988, VACAA began making changes to their standards to reflects some of these advances. However, the agency soon realized that a full evaluation of the program would be necessary to see how these new measures fit Virginia's climate, housing stock, and local weatherization capabilities, and how much they could improve the effectiveness of the program. In June 1989, the Virginia Association of Community Action Agencies, Inc. (VACAA) contracted the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research (VCCER) to conduct an evaluation of the Virginia Weatherization Program. The study ran through December 1990. The main objective of the evaluation was to improve the energy savings and cost-effectiveness of the program by developing a new protocol of energy conservation measures and recommending improvements in administrative procedures. This final report of the study describes the project and its principal findings and recommendations. The project was conducted by VCCER's John Randolph and Kathy Greely with assistance from Bill Hill (Center for Energy Research, Education Service at Ball State University) and Larry Kinney (Synertech Systems Corp.). Special training of Virginia weatherization crews for purposes of the study was conducted by R.W. Davis and Rudy Leatherman (Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development), Rana Belshe and Tom Wilson (Residential Energy Conservation Consulting Group (RECCG), and Jim Fitzgerald. In addition to the final report, a Training and Technical Assistance Manual for Virginia Weatherization produced by COAD, RECCG, and Larry Kinney, was a product of the evaluation project.
  • B. Water Resources Management in Virginia and the Role of Localities
    Randolph, John (Virginia Tech. College of Architecture and Urban Studies., 1991-03)
    This report is one of ten volumes that make up the Sourcebook for Local Water Resources Management, which provides a wide range of information to assist localities in Virginia. The compendium was produced by a team from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech with a grant from the Virginia Environmental Endowment (VEE). The objective of the project is to help localities develop the means to respond to local water-related problems and to incorporate water resources information into land use and comprehensive planning.
  • Cogeneration/IPP Development in the Virginia Coalfields: Coal and Natural Gas Availability
    Randolph, John; Zipper, Carl E.; Hensley, Michael (Virginia Tech. Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research., 1990-05)
    This study attempts to quantify the potential for cogeneration and independent power production (IPP) development based on local ruel availability in the Virginia coalfields. An estimate of available fuel is determined from interviews with a sample of the region's largest coal and natural gas producers. They were asked specifically what quantity of coal or gas they would be willing to provide under long-term contract to such local facilities. Certain assumptions on price and fuel quality were prnvided. The study demonstrates that, given the right price conditions, substantial coal supplies could be available to such a local cogeneration/lPP market. Surveyed producers indicated about 4.5 million tons per year might be available. These producers represent 82 percent of Virginia's coal production. The major factors arfecting their willingness to provide this coal include: (1) the desirability of long-term contracts; (2) the flexible coal quality specifications such plants would accept; and (3) the dedicated, local market that would help secure them from the uncertainty of distant markets and rail transport costs.
  • High-Extraction Mining, Subsidence, and Virginia’s Water Resources
    Roth, Richard A.; Randolph, John; Zipper, Carl E. (Virginia Tech. Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research., 1990-05)
    The Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research was established in 1977 as an "interdisciplinary study, research, inrormation and resource facility for the Commonwealth. As a public service research organization, the Center's mission is to research and provide information on coal and energy issues or public interest. It was with this mission in mind that we initiated this project to explore the technical, regulatory, and legal issues concerning mine subsidence and water resources in Virginia. Because of the sensitive nature or this subject to the coal industry, citizens' and environmental groups, and state agencies and policy makers, we have undertaken a deliberate and lengthy process of research, draft reports, and circulation for review and comment. The research was initiated in May 1988. The original draft was prepared in May 1989 and circulated lo state agency representatives and coal companies. Extensive comments were received over the next several months and a second rewritten draft was circulated for wider review in October 1989. Once again, lengthy comments were received, prompting further research which was incorporated into this final report. It has been our intent in this study to provide the most balanced review possible of a most complex and sensitive subject. We sincerely hope that we have achieved that objective and that this report will contribute to further discussions and research on mine subsidence and water resources in Virginia.
  • Virginia Coal: An Abridged History
    Hibbard, Walter R. Jr. (Virginia Tech. Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research., 1990-04)
    An abridged history of coal production in Virginia, including data about Virginia coal production and consumption from 1748-1988.
  • Meeting Coal Production Demands in the USA: Upstream issues, challenges, and strategies
    Gluskoter, Harold J.; Karmis, Michael E.; Luttrell, Gerald H.; Ramani, Raja V.; Vance, George F. (Virginia Tech. Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research., 2008-12)
    The National Commission on Energy Policy (NCEP) commissioned this report to review and identify critical “upstream” fuel cycle issues that need to be addressed to ensure that the domestic coal industry can continue meeting the nation’s energy demands while delivering the social benefits and environmental performance demanded by the public. The central focus of the study was to address matters important to ensuring a coal production system consistent with the nation’s long-term energy and environmental goals and objectives through 2030.
  • Assessment of the Risks Associated with Thin Film Solar Panel Technology
    Reynolds, William T. Jr.; Karmis, Michael E. (Virginia Tech. Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research., 2019-03-08)
    This report reviews the environmental risk profile of utility-scale cadmium telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic installations with relevant information from the scientific literature and an audit of the manufacturing and recycling facilities of a domestic manufacturer. Current photovoltaic technologies are described, and the environmental and health issues associated with CdTe are identified. Solubility measurements, bioavailability, acute aquatic toxicity, oral and inhalation toxicity, and mutagenicity studies all confirm CdTe has different physical, chemical, and toxicological properties than Cd. The CdTe compound is less leachable and less toxic than elemental Cd. The risks to the environment arising from broken solar panels during adverse events are considered by reviewing experimental results, theoretical worstcase modeling, and observational data from historical events. In each case considered, the potential negative health and safety impacts of utility-scale photovoltaic installations are low. The need for end-of-life management of solar panels is highlighted in the context of recycling to recover valuable and environmentally sensitive materials. Based upon the potential environmental health and safety impacts of CdTe photovoltaic installations across their life cycle, it is concluded they pose little to no risk under normal operating conditions and foreseeable accidents such as fire, breakage, and extreme weather events like tornadoes and hurricanes.
  • Mountain Voices: The Socio-Cultural Ramifications of Declines in Coal Mining Employment and Production in the Southwestern Virginia Coalfields
    Mooney, Stephen D. (Virginia Tech. Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research., 1998-08)
    The following study, Mountain Voices, was funded by the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research. Its purpose is to allow the people of the southwestern Virginia coalfields—miners and managers, citizens and industry representatives—to speak for themselves about socio-cultural issues related to the vitality or decline of their coal-based economy. Unfortunately, these voices—belonging to those who live daily with the consequences of booms and busts in their economy, and who, as a result, know best their socio-cultural ramifications—are often ignored by both politicians and policymakers alike. This study seeks to, at least partially, remedy that problem by providing the coalfield population a direct line of access to those people who make the decisions affecting the course of their lives.
  • A Study of Increased Use of Renewable Energy Resources in Virginia
    Karmis, Michael E. (Virginia Tech. Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research., 2005-11-11)
    The objective of this study, as requested by the Virginia Commission on Electric Utility Restructuring, was to review the current status and prospects for renewable energy in Virginia. The study reviews the current generation from renewables, the prospects for future resource development, renewable energy costs compared to fossil-fueled alternatives, incentives and impediments to the development of renewable energy, the economic impacts of renewable energy in Virginia, and environmental compliance considerations. This section summarizes the principal findings in each of these areas, and concludes with recommendations for further investigation and potential action. The complete analyses for each section are included as appendices to this report. Investigations of the topics were carried out by various experts under the general direction of Virginia Tech’s Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research (VCCER). VCCER also contracted with Black & Veatch, a highly experienced energy consulting, engineering, and construction firm, to perform an independent review of the findings and assist with summarizing the key findings and recommendations for Virginia.
  • Coal Mining Outlook: International, National, and Virginia Trends
    Karmis, Michael E.; McDowney, Preston; Ripepi, Nino; Schafrik, Steven J.; Weisiger, Sean; Walton, Daniel; Kostic, Dennis (Virginia Tech. Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research., 2000-11)
    Coal mining serves an important role as the economic catalyst for Southwest Virginia, providing high paying jobs in an area crippled by unemployment. There are numerous support industries in existence only because of coal mining. The ripple effects of mining are experienced throughout the state. Every ton of coal mined in Virginia contributes $27.11 to Virginia's economy, while every dollar paid to a miner has a $4.64 impact on Virginia's economy. The tax credit has had a pronounced effect on coal production in Virginia. After the tax credit was enacted, the declining trend in coal production has slowed down, and the production levels are higher than projected. As a result of these higher production levels, an additional $394 million in total impact has been generated, millions in severance and income taxes have been produced, and numerous coal mining jobs have been preserved.
  • North American Cross-Border Electricity Trade
    Loomis, Ian M. (Virginia Tech. Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research., 1998-03)
    The extensive trade of goods and services between the United States and Canada includes electricity. In general, this trade involves the shipment of power in both directions across the national border. In recent years the United States has been the net importer. In 1994 the United States imported a net 43.7 billion kilowatthours from Canada. This represented about 9.6% of the total consumption in Canada, but only about 1% of the total generation in the U.S. About 55% of the electricity imported from Canada was consumed in New York and the New England states. The 24.0 billion kilowatthours imported to New York and New England represented around 10% of the total demand in those regions. This is a significantly greater portion of the demand than could have been met by the nearly 1 million tons of Virginia sourced steam coal burnt in power plants in the northeastern portion of the United States. As coal mining in the Commonwealth of Virginia begins a downturn, from peak production in 1990 of 46.5 million tons, the import of electrical power from Canada appears to have little impact on the production of steam coal in Virginia. The longer term future of coal mining in Virginia appears to be in the extraction of thin seams, more suitable for the metallurgical than the steam market. The higher mining costs, in the thinner seams, is offset by the higher sales prices on the metallurgical market.