San Rafael Research Center Welcomes Chemical Engineering Consultant Dr. Andrew Fry


Dr. Andrew Fry. Photo courtesy of Brigham Young University.

By Julie Johansen

Emery County recently entered into a contract with Dr. Andrew Fry to be a consultant at the San Rafael Energy Research Center. Although Dr. Fry will continue teaching at Brigham Young University (BYU), he is certainly no stranger to the Emery County area.

Dr. Fry grew up in Salt Lake City but moved to Price when he was 15 years old. After graduating from Carbon High School, he worked for PacifiCorp/Rocky Mountain Power for three years in both the Huntington and Hunter power plants. In 1955, when the plants were reducing their workforce, he accepted a lay-off so that he could go climbing in the Himalayas. When he returned from his trip, he worked for an industrial construction company that built mine infrastructure. Some of his assignments for that job were associated with the development of Willow Creek Mine in Helper.

After three years, he became very interested in energy and power production, especially coal-fired utility broilers, and wanted to have a greater impact for good in that area. He decided to pursue his education and studied at the College of Eastern Utah (now USU Eastern) for two years and then transferred to University of Utah. Dr. Fry earned a Bachelors in Chemical Engineering from University of Utah in 2002.

Because of the university’s Industrial Combustion and Gasification Research Facility (ICGRF), he remained there to obtain a graduate degree. Dr. Fry received his PhD from the University of Utah in 2006 with research focused on understanding and reducing mercury remission from coal fired utility boilers.

He then went to work for Reaction Engineering International (REI) in Salt Lake City, a consulting firm that focuses on industrial combustion processes to make combustion hardware perform better and last longer while reducing emissions.

While at REI, Dr. Fry worked on coal fired utility broilers and led many US Department of Energy research programs. He worked for REI for seven years until ICGRF was in need of leadership, leading him back to the University of Utah as the Research Facility Director. While in this position, Dr. Fry realized that academia was a perfect platform to make a great contribution to the power industry while fulfilling his desire to teach. In 2016, he became an Associate Professor at BYU. He remains in close collaboration with both University of Utah and REI for research projects.

Dr. Fry’s research focuses on various aspects of electric power production from fossil fuels. He said that he understands society’s need for fossil fuel utilization now and in the future. He is also supportive of renewable resources, but stated that wind and solar will not provide the amount of reliable energy society requires. A large portion of Dr. Fry’s research for the past 12 years has focused on technologies related to zero-emission, coal-fired power generation.

When the ICGRF reduced its focus on coal combustion research, they had equipment that was necessary to perform research that would lead to the development of the next generation of coal fired utility broilers. Dr. Fry has been working with Emery County and the State of Utah to move and install some of this equipment at the San Rafael Research Center. The main piece of equipment is a 1.5 MW pulverized coal combustion furnace. Having this equipment in place is only one aspect to developing a working energy research center.

”Emery County’s coal combustion research is still welcome, which is unique and becoming rare in our society,” Dr. Fry said.

He has also been working to generate research projects for this facility with great success. The most prolific program is a U.S. Department of Energy funded project focused on providing critical CO2 power cycles that could be used in thermal power plants whether they are coal, natural gas or nuclear powered. He expects that the San Rafael Research Center will be successful in this area for many years to come.

Dr. Fry is an outdoor enthusiast and loves to spend time in Emery County. He has been climbing and canyoneering here since 1988.

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