A research group led by Dr. Thomas Mazzuchi and Dr. Richard Millar of the Engineering Management and Systems Engineering department is developing a green technology for the US coal industry. The technology, which can be used for a variety of purposes, will help provide a route for low-cost and low-waste production of engineered coal, which can be used to rebuild lost and depleted topsoil in agriculture and urban settings and to treat municipal wastewater. Dr. Mazzuchi describes the initiative as “a good effort from a lot of different chemists, a forestry engineer, a mechanical engineer, and students.”
The GW Technology Commercialization Office is currently prosecuting a patent application covering this technology and is considering various commercialization paths. Engart, Inc., an international manufacturing firm, plans to open a new plant in West Virginia in 2020 to produce engineered coal using the new technology developed by Drs. Millar and Mazzuchi. The plant may create 700 new jobs or more. “We’ve done some work here that can take a non-green product and turn it into a green product and help West Virginia,” Dr. Mazzuchi says.
Dr. Mazzuchi has greatly enjoyed seeing his undergraduate students “really apply their systems engineering and work in this environment. I’ve had three undergrads work on this project and they’ve all been very happy with how it turned out and the exposure they received from it,” he says.