Project No: SC0004378
Performer: TDA Research Inc.


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

Steven Markovich
Federal Project Manager
National Energy Technology Laboratory
626 Cochrans Mill Road
P.O. Box 10940
Pittsburgh, PA 15236-0940
(412) 386-7537

Girish Srinivas
Principal Investigator
TDA Research Inc.
12345 West 52nd Avenue
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033-1916
(303) 940-2314

Award Date:  06/22/2010
Project Date:  08/14/2014

DOE Share: $1,057,947.00
Performer Share: $297,000.00
Total Award Value: $1,354,947.00

Performer website: TDA Research Inc. -

Advanced Energy Systems - Coal and Coal/Biomass to Liquids

Poison Resistant Water-Gas-Shift Catalysts for Biomass and Coal Gasification

Project Description
The objective of the project is to optimize the catalyst formulation, scale up catalyst synthesis and perform extensive lifetime activity testing with a wide variety of contaminants present in syngas derived from the co-gasification of coal and biomass.

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. Liquid fuels produced from coal/biomass feedstock not only reduce the nation’s dependency on foreign oil but also are cleaner burning than comparable petroleum products.

TDA Research will advance C/CBTL Feed and Gasification technology by developing cost-effective water-gas-shift catalysts which, in turn, will result in the enhancement of a coal biomass alternate liquids fuel option and thereby increase U.S. energy security.

Project Scope and Technology Readiness Level

Ten major tasks are identified. In Task 1, researchers will synthesize additional catalysts using formulations that have a wide range of compositions centered on the composition of TDA Research Inc.’s successful Phase I sour shift catalysts. The catalysts will be characterized in Task 2 to be able to correlate their performance during sour shift with the physical and chemical characteristics of the catalyst. In Task 3, a statistical experimental design to explore the effects of gold (Au), molybdenum (Mo), and cobalt (Co) loading as well as testing the effects of the major catalyst poisons KCl and ammonia will be used. In Task 4, the effect of some of the more exotic potential catalysts poisons that result from trace metals in the coal and biomass, such as arsenic, phosphorus, cadmium and mercury, will be explored. These tests will be done using granulated catalysts and the catalyst test apparatus used in Phase I.

In year 2, once the catalyst formulation has been optimized to yield the best combination of low temperature sour water gas shift activity and resistance to poisons, synthesis scale up will be performed in Task 5 so that batches of 10 kg of catalyst can be produced for testing at TDA and its industrial partner, Evonik.  In Task 6, a pellet test apparatus that incorporates a reactor suitable for testing beds of ¼ inch catalyst pellets will be designed. The apparatus will be built in Task 7. Because industrial catalysts need a lifetime of several years, a 1000-hour lifetime test will be conducted in Task 8. Simultaneously, in Task 9, Evonik will be testing the best-performing catalyst in its laboratories.  In Task 10 an economic analysis of the sour shift process for various applications using TDA’s improved low temperature catalyst will be performed. Because process economics is always a consideration, a preliminary analysis at the beginning of the project to ensure that no time is wasted developing catalysts that would never be economical will be performed.

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". 



The research team has designed and built a bench-scale catalyst test apparatus and has successfully developed a WGS catalyst that met specifications and is now in the process of being optimized.