|HydroMax gasifier and production cycle. Click to enlarge.|
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded Diversified Energy Corporation (DEC) a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II grant to continue the development and commercialization of its HydroMax advanced gasification technology. (Earlier post.) The 24-month, $945,000 grant resulted from a competitive solicitation from the DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and builds upon results achieved by DEC during Phase I.
The HydroMax gasifier uses a patented molten-metals approach that can gasify a broad range of hydrocarbon inputs (biomass, municipal solid waste, petroleum coke, and coals with varying moisture, sulfur, and heating value content). The resulting syngas is relatively free of tars and oils and therefore requires less downstream clean-up equipment.
During Phase I of the SBIR, a technical team that included Pittsburgh Mineral and Environmental Technology, Inc. (PMET) built and operated a HydroMax gasification reactor that tested multiple coal types to characterize synthesis gas output composition and measure overall system performance and efficiency.
In Phase II, the objectives are to scale-up and conduct more rigorous testing. This includes the testing of high moisture content, low rank coal (Powder River Basin) and high sulfur content, high rank coal (Illinois #6), as well as coal/wood blends. Testing will use a reactor 2.5 times larger in diameter than Phase I and showcase longrun continuous operations, self-heating, the use of commercial refractory materials, and operations and maintenance procedures including the removal of sulfur from the coal.
The Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC) will join the team to support design, testing, and analyses activities. In addition, CertainTeed, one of North America’s leading gypsum wallboard manufacturers and a subsidiary of Compagnie de Saint-Gobain, will continue to act as the industrial partner by assessing how HydroMax can integrate into their North American wallboard and finishing plants.
The DOE SBIR Phase II award, coupled with on-going research and development being sponsored by the California Energy Commission (for biomass gasification to syngas) and Department of Defense (for biomass and waste gasification to liquid transportation fuels, earlier post), contributes to the commercial potential for HydroMax. DEC plans to leverage these various government awards and industry partnerships to introduce the first HydroMax commercial pilot plant system within the next five years.
Diversified Energy has also licensed the Centia process from North Carolina State University, and has produced a bio-gasoline very similar to traditional unleaded gasoline using that process. (Earlier post.) Centia is based on a three-step thermal, catalytic, and reforming process that has the potential to turn virtually any lipidic compound—e.g., vegetable oils, oils from animal fat and oils from algae—into drop-in replacements for petroleum jet fuel, diesel, and gasoline.