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DKRW Selects GE Gasification Technology for Medicine Bow Coal-to-Liquids Plant

Schematic of GE gasifier in an IGCC application.

DKRW will use GE’s coal gasification technology in its proposed Medicine Bow, Wyoming coal-to-liquids (CTL) plant. The first phase of the Medicine Bow project is designed to produce approximately 11,000 bpd of Fischer-Tropsch diesel and other fuels from Carbon Basin coal.

In January, DKRW announced it would use Rentech’s Fischer-Tropsch (FT) coal-to-liquids (CTL) technology in the plant. (Earlier post.) The GE gasifier will provide the syngas that feeds into Rentech’s F-T process.

We chose GE because of its leadership in the coal gasification technology industry. We believe that utilizing US-based technology, such as GE’s, is an important step in making the US less dependent on foreign energy sources while improving its technology for the future. This agreement completes a major set of feedstock and technology agreements needed to move forward with the Medicine Bow Project.

—Robert Kelly, Executive Officer of DKRW and Medicine Bow Fuel & Power

GE Energy acquired the assets of Chevron’s (then Chevron Texaco) gasification technology business in June 2004. More than 65 commercial gasification facilities using the technology are in operation or advanced development stages, but this marks its first application in a CTL process.

The GE gasifier is an entrained flow gasifier, as are the systems from Shell and E-Gas (Conoco-Phillips). The GE system uses a coal in water slurry in a single-stage downflow reactor configuration.

The dry solids concentration in the slurry is typically around 65%. A pump delivers the slurry to the gasifier at a pressure of up to 80 bar. The gasifier is refractory lined and typically operates at around 1,400° C.

According to an analysis by MIT’s Laboratory for Energy and the Environment (LFEE), the Shell technology has the highest efficiency and the highest capital cost, while the GE technology has the lowest efficiency and the lowest cost.

DKRW entered into an agreement with Arch Coal, the second largest U.S. coal miner owner and operator, for the purchase of the high-BTU, low-sulfur Carbon Basin Coal Reserve. Arch will be the constructor and operator for the Medicine Bow coal mine which is sufficient to support the first phase of the CTL project and expansion up to 40,000 bpd.

The project will transport diesel and other fuels via pipeline to energy companies in the region. Power, carbon dioxide, and other products will be produced and sold from the Project. The power will be produced in steam turbines from steam generated from the GE licensed gasification process. The end result is that the project’s power is projected to be produced with very low carbon dioxide and SOx emissions.



Johan Erlandsson

A nice acceleration of CO2 emitting into the atmosphere. Now we can rest assured that CO2 emissions will continue after the end of fossil gas and oil.

Rafael Seidl

CTL represents the cheapest way to produce synthetic hydrocarbon fuels for vehicles, because coal is abundant. Unfortunately, the CTL process (mine-to-wheels) is much less energy-efficient than fuels from crude oil. CTL will therefore increase total CO2 emissions and raise fuel prices. US taxpayers have chosen the far less effective alternative of direct subsidies:,9171,1167738,00.html

On the other hand, CTL will help prevent military confrontation between major future consumers of crude oil (e.g. US & China). Of course, if the greenhouse effect really did kick in, peace could be threatened by competition over other resources.

IMHO, CTL and its cousin GTL (Shell Malaysia) are stopgap measures for a few decades at best. In the latter half of the century, we will have no choice but to putter around using BTL (ethanol, FAME), CBG (compressed biogas) or sunfuels (fuels from solar, wind, hydro). The high production cost of these future mainstays will force carmakers to deliver much better fuel efficiency.

The US could accelerate the transition by mandating lower CO2 emissions (ACEA goal 140g/km fleet average by 2008) and, by raising fuel taxes (gasoline costs $5-5.50/US gallon in Europe).



Mandates won't do a thing. Look at what happened to the family station wagon. Auto companies could not meet the CAFE standards, so they went to SUVs instead.

As for fuel taxes, I don't think you can compare us to Europe at all. Just compare our geography and where our population centers are located. Europe has a much higher population density and a much smaller land area also. This makes cheap transportation fuel a necessity for us.

The current high prices alone are enough to get people serious about alternative fuels.


To Rafael,
This technology might ease confrontations and prevent war of sorts, but in all sincerety where there is a will there is a way. As it applies to war, where there is a justification, there is a conflict.

I'd personally prefer perpetual wars over the last scraps of oil. The alternative is living in dome cities with an outside atmosphere like Venuses'

The fact that this proposed process is inneficient, and because coal is abundent, to meet consumer fuel demand, they will just build more plants. Mass production would bring all costs down again keeping hte public happy and in compliance.
Although I will say if the US has solid plans for the next 20 yrs of accelerated coal to fuel conversion usage as a direct substitute for oil, then we are in for an interesting future.

Fredric Fletcher

I see that the MIT paper and BP/Mission Energy proposal for hydrogen powered electricity generation in Carson CA use the GE process and CO2 capture. Seems like this Medicine Bow project ought to do that as well.

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