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DOE Selects Four Advanced Coal or Coal/Biomass Gasification Projects for Up To $5.9M in Funding to Test Membrane Separation Technology

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected four advanced coal gasification projects for funding of up to $5.9 million, with an addition $1.7 million of non-Federal cost sharing funds. The projects will test membrane technology to separate hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal or coal/biomass-derived synthesis gas (syngas), such as from Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power systems.

The work will be managed by the Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Analysis of advanced IGCC power systems indicates hydrogen membrane separation technologies could increase overall power plant efficiency, with a resulting decrease in electricity cost to the consumer. Hydrogen produced from the separation could be utilized as an additional turbine fuel or be further used to co-produce other fuels and chemicals. As an added benefit, the membrane separation process can help mitigate GHG emissions by isolating the CO2 produced during gasification, facilitating permanent geological sequestration, or storage.

Until now, advanced hydrogen membrane separation technology development has been primarily conducted at the laboratory scale. These projects are intended to move the technology development to the next level, conducting testing using actual coal-derived synthesis gas. This will provide the pathway to further scale-up this technology to membrane module demonstrations, with the eventual goal of designing and fabricating commercial scale processes for incorporation into advanced power plants.

The selected projects are:

  • Praxair, Inc (Danbury, Conn.) Praxair will partner with the Colorado School of Mines (Golden, Colo.) and T3 Scientific (Blaine, Minn.) to demonstrate palladium (Pd) and Pd alloy membranes on ceramic supports for hydrogen separation from coal-derived syngas. Praxair facilities available for the project include the research and development center in Tonawanda, N.Y., the Surface Technologies Center in Indianapolis, Ind., and the Specialty Ceramics Center in Seattle, Wash. Initial gasification tests will be conducted on the small-scale Colorado School of Mines gasifier with additional testing likely at the University of North Dakota’s Energy and Environmental Research Center in Grand Forks, N.D.(DOE share: $1,500,722; $643,167; duration: 15 months)

  • United Technologies Research Center (East Hartford, Conn.) This project will demonstrate hydrogen separation from coal-derived syngas using Pd and Pd alloy membranes in three forms: dense metal, surface modified dense metal, and nano-composite metal membranes. United Technologies will partner with Power+Energy, Inc. (Ivyland, Pa.). Gasification testing will be conducted in several gasifiers located at the University of North Dakota’s Energy and Environmental Research Center in Grand Forks, N.D. (DOE share: $1,492,188; recipient share: $373,047; duration: 15 months)

  • Western Research Institute (Laramie, Wyo.) Western Research Institute will collaborate with Chart Energy and Chemicals (La Crosse, Wis.) and Synkera Technologies (Longmont, Colo.) to develop and test planar Pd-based ceramic—anodic aluminum oxide—membranes for hydrogen separation from coal-derived syngas streams. Gasification testing will be conducted on Western Research Institute’s gasifier located in Laramie, Wyo. (DOE share: $1,399,998; recipient share: $350,349; duration: 15 months).

  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, Mass.) Worcester Polytechnic Institute in collaboration with Membrane Technology and Research (Menlo Park, Calif.), Siemens Energy America (Orlando, Fla.), and T3 Scientific (Blaine, Minn.) will demonstrate hydrogen separation from coal-derived syngas using Pd and Pd alloy membranes on porous metal supports. Gasification testing under this project will be conducted at the Power Systems Development Facility/National Carbon Capture Center in Wilsonville, Ala. (DOE share: $1,499,772; recipient share: $375,481; duration: 15 months)



While there seem important potential benefits to be realised esp re sequestration, these gasifiers are small compared to the in ground gasplants undergoing trials in various locations.

The three Australian demonstrations have been shut down pending groundwater contamination studies.
apparently 'each site has a different risk wich may be impossible to define beforehand.



That's underground coal gasification, a rather different beast from conventional mining.


As long as this is not a cheap excuse to keep on using coal, this is very good news.
Also when fossils are no longer used, this technology could be used to sequester atmospheric CO2 by gasifying biomass.


"permanent geological sequestration"

I think if the IGCC builds pipelines to old spent natural gas wells, they will store enough of it to become useful at some point in the future. When that time comes they know where to find a whole lot of it and they will know exactly how much they have.


It's more likely (and more sensible) that the USA would use CO2 for EOR from old fields rather than just trying to bury it.


It depends on how much you have, with many sources of CO2 and few uses, they might need to store some for a while.

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