Chemicals

Commercial Examples of Gasification-based Chemicals Production

Commercial Production
The quickly growing Chinese economy has given rise to a number of coal-to-chemical facilities, some already operating—21 plants came online from 2004 to 2007—and many planned for the near future. China, like the United States, has large domestic coal supplies and large demand for products like ammonia-based fertilizers and methanol, for direct use and as a building block in other chemical syntheses. The World Gasification Database 2010 lists fifty-six operating plants in China that convert coal and petroleum residues into a variety of chemicals, fertilizers, and gaseous fuels, while projections to 2016 have seventeen new plants to be built in China, all processing coal, with 14 of these to produce chemicals.

Considerably less activity is occurring in the United States in terms of new development of coal-based chemicals production; a few projects such as Faustina CTC and Leucadia Energy’s Lake Charles CCS Project are currently in development.

  Kingsport Integrated Coal Gasification Facility,
 

Kingsport Integrated Coal Gasification Facility,
Kingsport, TN

Eastman Chemical Company Kingsport Plant 
One of the earliest and most notable coal gasification-based chemical plants in the United States is owned and operated by Eastman Chemical Company and based in Kingsport, Tennessee. The plant produces acetyl chemicals; acetic acid and acetic anhydride are commonly used in pharmaceutical and industrial applications and can be processed into products like paints, fibers, photographic film, tool handles, cigarette filters and more.

The Eastman Integrated Coal Gasification facility, first opened in 1983, was designed to process syngas from the gasification of Southwest Virginia and Eastern Kentucky coal, using what is now GE gasification technology. The intermediate products of syngas conversion are methanol and CO; these are further converted into products consisting of 500 million pounds per year of acetic anhydride and acetic acid, enough to supply half of Eastman’s raw acetyl needs. Acetyl chemicals are important to many of Eastman’s products, but especially those at the Kingsport site, where five of seven manufacturing divisions rely on acetyls as a raw material. The success of the operation led to a decision to expand the plant capacity to an excess of 1 billion pounds per year to meet allof Eastman's needs, a testament to the ability of gasification to reliably, economically, and efficiently meet the coal-to-chemical requirements of Eastman's Kingsport facility.

Huayi Group coal to chemical plant  
Huayi Group coal to chemical plant, Shanghai, China. 
Photo courtesy Huayi and Praxair.

Huayi Group Coal-to-Chemicals Plant 
Located in Shanghai, the Huayi Group's facility is one of the earliest and most successful coal-to-chemical plants in China. Partnered with Praxair for air separation technology and currently using GE gasifiers, it produces 800 kilotons (kt) methanol and 500 kt glacial acetic acid (glacial means undiluted with water). The plant brought in $4.68 billion in revenue in 2007 and intends to develop further downstream processes to balance acetic acid production and to manufacture products like olefins, dimethyl ether, and others. (Huayi – Praxair Partnership in Integrated Coal to Chemical Site, Presentation, Gasification Technologies Conference, Oct 7, 2008.)

References/Further Reading

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