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The U.S. Department of Energy has given Southern Illinois University a grant worth up to $1 million to research ways to recover fine coal particles, which make high-quality fuel but now go to waste as a result of the mining process.

The coal powder is left behind in slurry ponds used to clean coal prior to shipment. It is a high-quality fuel that would provide much-needed revenue for coal companies if they were able to recover and sell it, said Rick Honaker, an associate professor at SIU who is in charge of the project.

Recovering more of it also would help clean up active and abandoned waste ponds, he said.