In support of "Vision 21," the United States Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy opened its 20th year of University Coal Research competition with a November call to United States colleges and universities to investigate long-term solutions for clean and efficient use of coal.

DOE’s concept for energy systems in the 21st century, named "Vision 21," is based on the concept of futuristic, ultra-clean energy plants that could be customized to coproduce electric power and fuels, chemicals or other high value products from coal. It is envisioned that these plants would generate low-cost electricity from coal, or mixtures of coal and other resources, that would produce virtually no pollution. Clean, efficient, low cost, environmentally compliant energy systems are central to continued economic growth, the health and well-being of the American people and the energy security of the nation, says DOE.

This year the DOE will offer a total of approximately $2.9 million to enlist the nation’s universities in research that would underpin this long-range concept. The solicitation has been divided into a core portion and an innovative concepts portion. The Department expects to name the winning projects in May 1999.

Of the $2.9 million, the DOE has allocated $2.4 million for six specific research areas that support the "Vision 21" concept. The six focus areas are as follows:

The DOE also intends to set aside approximately $500,000 for universities to study "innovative concepts" in order to develop unique approaches for addressing fossil energy-related issues. In this area, DOE is seeking to explore novel concepts that would offer prospects for research breakthroughs in important "Vision 21" program areas including, but not limited to:

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