We'll have additional comments from Fifth District Representative Virginia Foxx in upcoming 3WC Newscasts.
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Though state law requires at least 180 days and 1,000 hours of instruction, the change inserts an "or" to allow Wilkes County Schools to meet the 1,000 hours of instruction in fewer days by extending the school day by 45 minutes. Wilkes school officials say that the change saved the system $815,000 this past year. The county school board will adopt the calendar for the coming school year, with an expected start date of Aug. 24. A report in the Winston-Salem Journal incorrectly lists the start date as August 2nd.
Robert Walker, who is best known for pioneering the Sleep Number bed sold by Select Comfort Corp., now says he’s come up with a way to convert coal into synthetic natural gas - with a closed-loop system that superheats the fuel without burning it. Walker founded Brooklyn Park-based Bixby Energy Systems Inc., which sold biomass stoves fueled by corn stalks, as a side business. He developed what’s now called “the Bixby Process,” which heats coal to 1,400 degrees in a sealed chamber. At that temperature, the coal separates into synthetic natural gas and semi-activated carbon. The gas can be drawn off to burn at power plants; much of the carbon can be marketed, as well.
Converting old coal plants to natural gas typically boosts efficiency from 35 to 65 percent. Walker claims that the Bixby Process can capture up to 80 percent of the power from coal.
Backed by more than $40 million in private investments, the nine-year-old company built a pilot system two years ago in North Wilkesboro, where research on the synthesized natural gas also takes place.