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Plans for a coal/hydrogen operation employing hundreds announced for Mercer County

By Greg Jordan, Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON, W.Va. — A plan for establishing a new business using locally-mined coal and employing hundreds of people in Mercer County and the counties beyond was announced Wednesday by an entrepreneur with local ties to the area.

Tim Hawks, managing partner of TNT Hydrogen and president of Hernandez Consulting & Construction in New Orleans, spoke by telephone to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph along with Assessor Lyle Cottle and Senator Chandler Swope, R-Mercer, about the project.

“I represent a group of associates,” Hawks said. “We have long-term relationships and some of them are local, and basically what we’re doing is we’re taking existing technology that exists out in the market and putting it together in a unique way and taking the coal that is available in Mercer County and the surrounding counties, the Pocahontas Coal Belt.”

Pocahontas coal has unique properties, Hawks said. The process at the future operation will heat it up to 1,200 degrees, but it won’t burn due to the absence of oxygen. A hydrogen-based gas will be created from it along with another substance called carbon black.

“The gases are hydrogen, that’s unique to this particular coal because the other area coals in the country and even internationally don’t product as much hydrogen as the coal in the Pocahontas Coal Belt,” he said, adding that the process will create a gas called SimGas which has some methane and carbon dioxide.

This hydrogen gas will be used to generate electricity and fuel vehicles.

“In particular with the hydrogen, part of our goal is the capture the hydrogen market in not only in generating electricity, but also in the future of powering cars,” Hawks said.

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