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ConocoPhillips and Peabody Energy Select Site in Kentucky for Coal to Synthetic Natural Gas Facility

16 December 2008

ConocoPhillips and Peabody Energy have filed an air permit with the Commonwealth of Kentucky to site a coal to synthetic natural gas (SNG) facility near Central City in Muhlenberg County. The filing is a major step toward advancing development of the project into the next phase of evaluation.

This mine-mouth gasification project, to be known as Kentucky NewGas, would use ConocoPhillips’ proprietary E-Gas technology to produce synthesis gas that is then transformed into pipeline quality methane (natural gas). The main reaction is to convert the syngas produced from coal gasification to methane in a methanation reactor. The product gas is then adjusted to meet natural gas pipeline specifications.

The reaction is typically catalyzed by nickel catalysts and it is best performed at high temperatures (1,300-1,800° F) where additional heat is liberated, which can be used in the gasification process.

A 2007 feasibility study by the University of Kentucky (UK) on producing fuels, chemicals and SNG from the gasification of coal examined three SNG cases—two without carbon capture, and one with—all at a projected SNG output of 74 MMscfd. Without carbon capture, more than 8,200 tons per day of CO2 are released to the atmosphere; with carbon capture, about 165 tons per day of CO2 are released to the atmosphere while 8,200 tons per day are captured and sequestered.

When carbon capture is required there is a small efficiency penalty of about 2 percent and a cost of product penalty of about 4 percent. The efficiency penalty is small because even in the cases where carbon capture is not required, the carbon dioxide still has to be removed. The only difference is that the carbon dioxide has to be compressed to 2,000 psi when capturing is necessary. This additional cost does not include the actual cost of sequestering this compressed carbon dioxide. Ideally this carbon dioxide could be used for enhanced oil recovery if there are suitable opportunities within a feasible distance from the plant.

—UK report 2007

Kentucky NewGas would be carbon storage ready. Kentucky NewGas will meet regulatory standards to protect the environment, including adoption of low emissions design criteria, anticipated to be less than 5% of the emissions of a comparably sized traditional coal plant.

The companies said they are working with a diverse group of industry, academic, governmental and non-governmental organizations to advance development of a regulatory and legal framework that would make carbon storage viable and enable competitive project economics. ConocoPhillips and Peabody also are funding research on carbon storage in Western Kentucky through a test well project directed by the Kentucky Geological Survey.

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Comments

Awesome idea....I love these minemouth coal to gas plants! The economics & proprietary production techniques must be good for nat gas - though gasoline production makes more sense. ...ejj...

EJJ,
certainly not gasoline.
It is easy and cheap to build cars using methane. It is also relatively easy to reform methane to H2 (which can be used efficienctly in future hydrogen fuel cells).

Using methane as fuel releases much less CO2 per energy unit than using liquid fuels.
If carbon is sequestered, coal becomes 'only as environmentaly unfriendly as natural gas'.

We should stop considering carbon as an energy source, but as a (disposable) hydrogen carrier.

As long as carbon-derived energy is necessary, we should try to convert to methane as fast as possible
(which can easily be made out of any biomass, and with much higher efficiency if external H2 is added)

The evolution of energy could be

gasoline in ICE
methane from coal in ICE
methane from biomass in ICE /fuel cell / electric
methane from biomass + H2 in ICE / fuel cell /electric

If in this facility, biomass is used in addition to coal, the facilicy could be carbon-negative.

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