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Southern Research Institute wins $1.5M DOE award to test new coal-biomass-to-liquids method; seeking to reduce cost and environmental impact

8 January 2013

Southern Research Institute has entered into a $1.5-million cooperative agreement with the US Department of Energy to test an innovative method for producing liquid transportation fuels from coal and biomass, thereby improving the economics and lifecycle impacts of coal-to-liquid (CTL) and coal-biomass-to-liquid (CBTL) processes.

The novel approach eliminates the conventional Fischer-Tropsch (FT) product upgrading and refining steps and enhances the ability of CTL and CBTL processes to compete with petroleum-based processes.

We hope the project will advance CTL and CBTL processes by demonstrating a cost-effective, novel FT catalyst that selectively converts syngas derived from the gasification of coal and coal-biomass mixtures predominantly to gasoline and diesel range hydrocarbons, thereby eliminating expensive upgrading operations.

We will evaluate the impact of adding moderate amounts of biomass to coal on CBTL products and process economics, and compare the carbon footprint of CBTL processes with petroleum-based fuel production processes.

—Dr. Santosh K. Gangwal, Southern Research principal investigator

The Southern Research team includes research partners from Southern Company Services and Nexant Inc. The project will implement a full coal and coal-biomass to liquids bench-scale FT synthesis reactor system to produce liquid transportation fuels using a selective, wax-free FT catalyst provided by Chevron.

Gangwal says the research team will use an existing demonstration scale coal gasifier at the DOE’s National Carbon Capture Center (NCCC) in Wilsonville, Ala.—an air-blown transport gasifier (also known as TRIG) operated by Southern Company Services—as the source of both coal and coal-biomass derived syngas.

Southern Research is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization conducting basic and applied research in Alabama, Maryland, and North Carolina in the areas of drug discovery, preclinical drug development, advanced engineering, and environmental protection.

January 8, 2013 in Biomass, Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL), Catalysts, Coal-to-Liquids (CTL), Fuels | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

Can the also reduce the number of mountain tops we lop off in West Virginia? Oops.

I think that the best thing to do with coal is leave it in the ground. If we have to use a hydrocarbon fuel, it would best to use natural gas. It can be used directly in diesel engine at a ratio or about 95% NG to 5% diesel.

And, NatGas doesn't leave mountains of heavy toxic metal ash next to waterways.

Natural gas and biomass can make gasoline, diesel and jet fuel using the syngas to DME process.

This is a very good step for the US or any country that has either coal or natural gas. Many coal to liquids units should be built as a jobs program. JP-8 or Methanol or DME should be the produced fuels. DME, dimethylether, can be used in any diesel vehicle with a different tank, similar to autogas (propane) tanks, Slight modifications are needed.

The US should require the Dakota Gasification factory to start producing methanol and DME immediately since it captures its CO2 and it also has access to the vastly increased natural gas of the area.

Automobiles should be required to be able to use ordinary motor fuel or methanol automatically and efficiently. ..HG..

I don't see how our corporations will benefit from this. The most profitable fuel is what we use right now. Fortunately the players here are the same folks who have survived on government funding for decades, so I am sure in the end they will find a way to make it fail, and no one will have to make a change to our current profit machine.

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