Two University of Utah professors will be honored by the National Society of Mining Engineers early next year for their research on recovering fossil resin from Utah coal deposits.
J.D. Miller, professor of metallurgy, and Ye Yi, research assistant professor of metallurgy, will receive the 1988 Stefanko Award for their paper titled "Selective Flotation of Resin from Wasatch Plateau High-Volatile Bituminous Coal."The technology developed by the professors could provide the basis for an expanded fossil resin industry in economically depressed Carbon County. Fossil resins have significant value as a special commodity in the ink, adhesive, rubber, varnish, coatings and thermoplastic industries. They also have potential as feedstock for conversion to special high-density jet fuels.
The inability to make efficient separations has limited fossil resin production until recently. With this new process, concentrates containing 95 percent resin can be made at a recovery of 80 percent. Estimates are that more than 200 million pounds of resin is lost annually in Utah coal burned for power generation. Because the fossil resin content of some Utah coal is significant, these coals are more valuable for their resin content than for their traditional fuel content.