Archive for category IGCC

CCS Breakthrough – Coal Gasification + Fuel Cells is the Future?

Posted by on Monday, 25 January, 2010

Of late, I have been hearing a lot on the virtues of coal gasification combined with fuel cells as a method for carbon capture. It is called “clean coal” by some.

The idea is fairly simple. Gasifying coal results in syngas – a mixture of CO and H2. When you mix this syngas with steam, the CO gets oxidized to CO2. Thus, you have a gaseous mixture of CO2 and H2. The idea is to separate the CO2 at this stage and send in only the energy carrier hydrogen in fuel cells to produce power. The result of such a process is pure distilled water. (A 1,000 MW power station they would produce over 2.5 billion liters of clean water a year, according to some estimates).

Thus, you have separated CO2 at (reportedly) low costs, and have an environmentally sound combustion that produces only pure water, which is valuable in itself!

As per this article, Australian clean coal tech firm Linc Energy and British fuel cell specialist AFC Energy are the latest to predict that coal gasification and fuel cell combination could revolutionize power production.

These two have signed a major new partnerhip which, it is hoped, will culminate in a demonstration project sometime in future. Under the alliance, Linc has been granted exclusive rights to test AFC’s fuel cell technology in conjunction with underground coal gasification techniques.

It is too early to sing the praises of this combo process because the cost components are still not known. But, with over 80% of the cost of CCS is incurred in the CO2 capture stage, the new process could potentially offer a cheaper alternative whereby the CO2 is already captured and contained, ready for injection into its storage area.

Fuel Cell


A “Slow” Gasifier for IGCC Uses Low Quality Coal

Posted by on Wednesday, 13 January, 2010

Here’s an interesting variation of the gasification technology that is able to utilize low-quality coal for gasification-based (IGCC) power plants. (Source: Technology Review)

This will soon be tried at a coal-power plant in the industrial boomtown of Dongguan in southeast China’s Pearl River Delta. Its developers, Atlanta-based utility Southern Company and Houston-based engineering firm KBR, announced the licensing deal with Dongguan Power and Chemical Company this month.

This technology uses a transport gasifier to turn cheap, low-quality coal per hour into a clean-burning gas. Conventional gasifiers have temperatures around 1,500 ºC. Such high temps, melt ash and other mineral contaminants in the coal, forming a glassy slag that eventually damages the reactors.

Dongguan’s gasifier will sidestep those issues by operating at just 925 ºC to 980 ºC, below the contaminant melting temperature. Coal nevertheless gasifies completely at these lower temperatures. How? Because it spends twice as long in the new process. Looks like a simple adaptation!

The specific technology is an adaptation of the fluidized catalytic cracking.

The technology is attractive to Dongguan Power because it can use coal that is cheaper and less desirable.