The U.S. Department of Energy announced the selection of four new projects under its Coal and Power R&D Program. Project teams will research advanced coal-gasification technologies for the coproduction of power and hydrogen or substitute natural gas (SNG).
A recent report published by Argonne National Laboratory concluded that coal will match natural gas as the largest source of hydrogen by 2030, and then move into the lead, providing 26.5% of the hydrogen to fuel the anticipated hydrogen highway by 2050. (Earlier post.)
The objective of the coproduction strategy is to pursue new technology developments leading to low-cost, high-efficiency, environmentally responsible coal gasification facilities. Coproduction is well-suited to increase facility efficiencies and lower production costs.
The projects are in three areas: novel hydrogen/electricity coproduction; novel SNG/electricity coproduction; and improving the economics of central-station hydrogen production plants. The projects total $23.3 million in government and participant cost-shared funds, with DOE contributing approximately $17.0 million.
Novel Hydrogen/Electricity Co-production Processes. Research Triangle Institute will develop a process for coproducing hydrogen and electricity based on the reduction and oxidation of iron oxide catalysts to process coal gasification synthesis gas.
The project team will develop a sturdy, iron-based catalyst for producing high-pressure, high-purity hydrogen within a system capable of separating carbon dioxide for sequestration. If successful, the project will reduce the cost of gasification-based co-production while achieving near-zero emissions. (DOE award: $2,578,345; cost-share: $643,200; project duration: 40 months)
Novel Substitute Natural Gas/Electricity Co-production Processes. Two projects will coproduce electricity and SNG while achieving near-zero emissions and capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide. The efficient and cost-competitive production of SNG is intended to augment the U.S. domestic natural gas supply and curb the rising cost of natural gas for industrial and consumer use.
Arizona Public Service will research and develop a hydro-gasification process to co-produce SNG and electricity from western coals. The proposed system will use hydrogen instead of air or oxygen in the gasification process, an approach that offers higher operating efficiencies, lower water consumption, and a gas product that is richer in methane than other gasification processes. The system offers the potential to produce SNG below the projected market price for natural gas. It will use a de-carbonization unit to separate carbon dioxide for sequestration. (DOE award: $8,905,158; cost-share: $4,046,394; project duration: 60 months)
In its second project, Research Triangle Institute will develop a catalytic coal-gasification process that coproduces SNG and electricity, achieves near-zero emissions, and produces high-pressure, sequestration-ready carbon dioxide. The concept centers on a preprocessing step that converts the coal into a mixture of gas-phase carbon products, hydrogen, and char particles. The gaseous mixture is then cycled through a catalytic reactor and converted into methane. (DOE award: $3,000,383; cost-share: $750,000; project duration: 40 months)
Improving the Economics of Central-Station Hydrogen Production Plants. West Virginia University Research Corporation will integrate a coal extraction process into a central-station hydrogen production facility to enhance the profitability of the facility’s hydrogen production process. The new system will combine small amounts of the plant’s hydrogen product with process waste heat to coproduce such byproducts as needle coke and binder pitch for metals smelting, and anode coke for use in the aluminum industry. (DOE award: $2,540,404; cost-share: $857,148; project duration: 37 months)