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Air Products completes acquisition of Shell’s coal gasification technology/patents; strategic alliance with Shell for liquids gasification for refineries

Air Products has acquired the Coal Gasification Technology licensing business from Shell Global Solutions International B.V., a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell plc, and formed a strategic alliance with Shell for residue gasification technology to refinery complexes.

The acquisition includes Shell’s associated patent portfolios for solids (coal and biomass) gasification and sharing of patent rights for residue and biomass gasification. Financial terms are not being disclosed for the agreement, initially announced in January.

These moves extend Air Products’ offerings in synthesis gas (syngas) to provide turn-key sale-of-gas gasification facilities for solids (coal and biomass) and liquids (refinery residues). In its sale-of-gas business model, Air Products finances, builds, owns, operates and maintains the gas production plant, enabling customers to focus attention and capital on their primary business.

Gasification technologies offer a way to take varied lower-value feedstocks and convert them in a lower-emission manner into syngas. Air Products can then provide this syngas to customers to make higher-value products. Shell has been at the forefront of gasification research and innovation over the past 50 years, with reports showing 170 Shell gasification process (SGP) and 34 coal gasifiers built, and currently, 96 SGP and 24 Shell coal gasification process gasifiers in operation worldwide.

This acquisition of Shell’s gasification process capabilities will further support previously announced projects by Air Products such as Lu’An in Changzhi, Shanxi Province, China, which the company has successfully closed, as announced on its fiscal second quarter earnings call, as well as for future projects.

Through the new strategic alliance between Air Products and Shell in liquids (residue) gasification, Air Products will offer complete sale-of-gas residue gasification facilities to the refining industry and will be a project operating partner for the supply of industrial gases in the strategic alliance. The alliance will leverage Shell’s technology lead in the liquids (residue) gasification area, as demonstrated at the world-scale Jazan combined gasification/refinery project under construction in Jazan Economic City, Saudi Arabia.



The real issue here probably isn't liquids, coal or biomass.  More likely than not, it's petcoke (the residue left from "coking" heavy oils to make lighter, usable fractions from unsalable heavy residues).

Petcoke is filthy, to the point where coal-fired power plants just miles from refineries won't or can't burn the stuff (emissions regulations).  Gasifiers which can handle coal can also use petcoke (as the Wabash River Repowering Project proved) and of course they could take the heavy residual oils and gasify them directly, avoiding the coker altogether.  They can turn this stream into syngas, which has a multitude of uses.  Syngas contains a great deal of hydrogen, which is required for hydrocrackers and desulfurization units.  Carbon monoxide can be water-gas shifted to hydrogen and CO2, or burned for process heat.

As emission limits tighten, it seems to me that gasification has a bright future.

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