Rentech, a Fischer-Tropsch process company, is acquiring a Royster-Clark nitrogen fertilizer plant in East Dubuque, Illinois, in a $50-million deal that will provide Rentech with a platform for its polygeneration strategy: the co-production of fertilizer, Fischer-Tropsch synthetic fuels and electric power via coal gasification.
Rentech plans to convert the natural-gas fertilizer plant to coal-fed gasification using Illinois coal. The conversion calls for two gasification trains and a spare, standby gasifier at the site to process 5,200 tons per day of coal, the commercial equivalent capacity of a 650 megawatt Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power plant.
|Rentech’s CTL Poly-Generation Vision|
The new expanded gasification process will generate the synthesis gas necessary to increase the nitrogen fertilizer production to more than 900 tons per day and is projected to produce an estimated 87 million gallons per year of Fischer-Tropsch (FT) fuels as well as surplus electricity.
Rentech estimates that it will take approximately three and one-half years to convert the plant from natural gas to coal feedstock. Rentech may make available a portion of the Fischer-Tropsch fuels to the Department of Defense Clean Fuels Program, regional metropolitan transit systems and area farming cooperatives under long term contracts. In addition, RDC has already begun discussions with local electric cooperatives for long term power sales.
When and if complete, Rentech believes the plant will produce the first commercial scale volume of Fischer-Tropsch fuels, including jet fuel, from coal in the United States. Moreover, the conversion of the RCI facility from natural gas to coal could catalyze several additional conversion efforts.
The conversion will also address issues within the domestic nitrogen fertilizer industry which has suffered from high volatile natural gas prices since 1999. By co-producing nitrogen fertilizer, FT fuels and electricity from coal-derived synthesis gas, Rentech will be maximizing the thermal efficiency of the facility and utilizing the BTU output of the plant with the highest value products while in turn improving the profitability of the overall process.