Project No: FE0010231
Performer: Southern Research Institute


Contacts

Jenny Tennant 
Technology Manager
Coal and Coal/Biomass to Liquids
National Energy Technology Laboratory
3610 Collins Ferry Road
P.O. Box 880, MS B17
Morgantown, WV 26507-0880
(304) 285-4830 
jenny.tennant@netl.doe.gov

Arun Bose
Federal Project Manager
National Energy Technology Laboratory
626 Cochrans Mill Road
P.O. Box 10940
Pittsburgh, PA 15236-0940
(412) 386-4467 
arun.bose@netl.doe.gov

Santosh Gangwal
Principal Investigator
Southern Research Institute 
2000 Ninth Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35205-2708
(205) 581-2269
gangwal@southernresearch.org

Duration
Award Date:  09/27/2012
Project Date:  04/26/2015

Cost
DOE Share: $1,506,301.00
Performer Share: $439,852.00
Total Award Value: $1,946,153.00

Performer website: Southern Research Institute - http://www.southernresearch.org/

Advanced Energy Systems - Coal and Coal/Biomass to Liquids

Small Scale Coal Biomass Liquids Production Using Highly Selective Fischer Tropsch Catalyst

Project Description

Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process converts a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, called syngas, into liquid hydrocarbons. It is a leading technology for converting syngas derived from gasification of coal and coal-biomass mixtures to hydrocarbons in coal to liquids (CTL) and coal-biomass to liquids (CBTL) processes. However, conventional FTS catalysts produce undesirable waxes (C21+) that need to be upgraded to liquids (C5-C20) by hydrotreating. This adds significantly to the cost of FTS.

The objectives of this project are (i) to demonstrate potential for CBTL cost reduction by maximizing the production of C5-C20 hydrocarbon liquids using a selective FTS catalyst and (ii) to evaluate the impacts of the addition of biomass to coal on product characteristics, carbon foot print, and economics.

A novel bench-scale reactor system will be designed built and tested for economical and environmentally-sustainable conversion of coal-biomass feedstocks to gasoline- and diesel-range hydrocarbon liquids using the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process chemistry. Selective FT conversion of coal- and coal-biomass derived syngas to C5-C20 hydrocarbon liquids will be carried out using a syngas slip-stream from the pilot-scale gasifier at the National Carbon Capture Center (NCCC). A novel FT catalyst being proposed removes the standard product upgrading and refining steps, allowing the CBTL process to become competitive with petroleum-based processes.

Development and commercialization of a cost-effective gasification/FTS-based CBTL process to produce renewable gasoline is another step toward increasing the Nation's fuel supply diversity and energy security through the use of our abundant coal resources while at the same time protecting the environment.

National Carbon Capture Center Slip Stream Test Site

National Carbon Capture Center Slip Stream Test Site


Program Background and Project Benefits

The Department of Energy (DOE) is committed to supporting research focused on making use of the nation's coal and biomass resources. The Coal and Coal Biomass to Liquids (C&CBTL) Technology Program at DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is developing advanced technologies to remove technical barriers that will foster the commercial adoption of coal and coal/biomass gasification technologies for the production of affordable hydrogen and liquid fuels (such as gasoline, diesel, aviation, and military fuels). The hydrogen can be used in advanced systems for efficient power generation produced with near-zero emissions and with the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The synthesis gas (syngas) produced by the gasification of coal and coal/biomass mixtures can be converted by chemical processes to generate clean liquid hydrocarbon fuels. To successfully complete the development of C&CBTL technologies from the present state to the point of commercial readiness, the C&CBTL Program efforts are focused on two Key Technologies: (1) Coal/Biomass Feed and Gasification, and (2) Advanced Fuels Synthesis.

The Coal/Biomass Feed and Gasification Key Technology is advancing scientific knowledge of the production of liquid hydrocarbon fuels from coal and/or coal-biomass mixtures. Activities support research for handling and processing of coal/biomass mixtures, ensuring those mixtures are compatible with feed delivery systems, identifying potential impacts on downstream components, catalyst and reactor optimization, and characterizing the range of products and product quality.

This Southern Research Institute project will (i) demonstrate the potential for CBTL cost reduction by maximizing the production of C5-C20 hydrocarbon liquids using a selective FTS catalyst and (ii) evaluate the impacts of the addition of biomass to coal on product characteristics, carbon foot print, and economics. The impact of this project will be to develop a cost-effective gasification-based CBTL process to produce renewable liquid fuels that will provide diversity of fuel supply and energy security while resulting in lower future capital and operating costs. Specifically this project will design, build, and test a novel bench-scale reactor system for conversion of coal-biomass feedstocks to gasoline- and diesel-range hydrocarbon liquids using the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process chemistry using a syngas slip-stream from the pilot-scale gasifier at the National Carbon Capture Center (NCCC) with a novel Chevron FT catalyst.


Project Scope and Technology Readiness Level

The project will implement a bench-scale FT synthesis reactor system to produce liquid transportation fuels using coal and coal-biomass derived syngas from an existing air-blown transport gasifier operated by Southern Company at its National Carbon Capture Center (NCCC). The research team will conduct technical and economic analysis of the Coal Biomass to Liquids processes, and the potential reduction of the carbon footprint relative to petroleum diesel baselines.

The Technology Readiness Level (TRL) assessment identifies the current state of readiness of the key technologies being developed under the DOE's Clean Coal Research Program. This project has not been assessed.

The TRL assessment process and its results including definition and description of the levels may be found in the "2012 Technology Readiness Assessment-Analysis of Active Research Portfolio".


Accomplishments

Southern Research has designed and validated, and is finalizing the construction of the bench-scale skid-mounted FT reactor system. A design hazard review has been completed. The system includes a high pressure gas cleanup system that includes unit operations for removing sulfur, tar, ammonia, and trace contaminants to produce a clean syngas using both coal and coal-biomass feed stocks. The system will be commissioned at Southern Research's pilot plant facility using synthetic syngas and then transported to the NCCC to be integrated with their pilot-scale gasifier. The gasifier will be run with coal only and with coal mixed with up to 20% biomass. Coal and cal-biomass derived syngas slip stream from the NCCC gasifier will be delivered to the skid for liquid production.