Advanced Fuels Synthesis

The Advanced Fuels Synthesis Key Technology is focused on catalyst and reactor optimization for producing liquid hydrocarbon fuels and valuable by-products from coal/coal-biomass mixtures. The current focus is on making significant improvements in fuels synthesis product distribution, i.e., by developing catalysts that are not bound by the Anderson-Shultz-Flory distributions characteristic of conventional silica-, alumina- or zeolite-supported iron or cobalt Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) synthesis catalysts. Future work in this area may include direct coal conversion to higher value products such as aromatics needed for high altitude jet fuel, and solid carbon product by-products.

Fischer-Tropsch fuels synthesis

The Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) reaction converts a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, called syngas, into liquid hydrocarbons. A recently completed project by the University of Kentucky advanced F-T technology for converting syngas derived from gasification of coal and coal-biomass mixtures to liquid hydrocarbon fuels, and evaluated the impacts of the addition of biomass to coal on product characteristics, carbon foot print, and economics. See Recently Completed Projects section below for more information.

Other fuels synthesis (not Fischer-Tropsch)

Altex has worked to demonstrate the feasibility of producing liquid fuels from coal containing up to 15 percent lignocellulosic biomass. See Recently Completed Projects section below for more information.

Conversion of coal or coal/biomass mixtures to jet fuel

A recently completed advanced coal-to-liquids R&D project by Ceramatec was being conducted to provide pathways forward to lead to the commercial production of coal-derived jet fuel that; has lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions less than or equal to conventional petroleum-based jet fuel production, is cost-competitive with conventional petroleum-based jet fuel, and uses U.S. mined coal or coal refuse as at least fifty-one (51) percent of the input feedstock on a BTU basis; i.e., higher heating value (HHV). Southern Research Institute recently completed a project investigating indirect liquefaction of coal-biomass mixtures for jet fuel production See Recently Completed Projects section below for more information.

Process and Reaction Intensification (R&IC Task 3)

NETL's Research & Innovation Center (R&IC) is providing support to the Fossil Energy (FE) program efforts in the deployment of coal and biomass to liquid technologies through a diverse set of research activities that will surpass both the greenhouse gases footprint and economic standards of conventional processes. Task 3.0 is focused on developing new reactors and reaction pathways that enablable process intensification and/or reduce the overall cost of small-scale energy conversion. The initial focus is to investigate new reactors and reactions such that a techno-economic analysis can be performed to determine the benefit of the technology and provide R&D guidance on technology goals. Later, the focus will shift to determining realistic goals and refining the pathway to achieve those technology specific goals.

  • Fischer-Tropsch Catalyst Development and Testing (Subtask 3.6) – This Subtask focuses on the development of Fischer-Tropsch catalysts specifically designed for modular Fischer-Tropsch reactor systems. Our focus on catalysts designed for small-scale, modular Fischer-Tropsch reactors can drastically reduce the capital expenditures and the associated risk. They can be readily deployed even at the most remote locations.
Amorphous Alloy Membrane Fabrication

Virtual Reactor Design, Validation, and Optimization (R&IC Task 4)

This Task is focused on the creation and validation of advanced computational toolsets for design and optimization of novel reactor systems. These toolsets will be based on the use of multiphase CFD to predict reactor performance, and the simulation-based optimization that use these predictions to meet optimal performance criteria.

  • Biomass to Syngas Reactor Application and Validation (Subtask 4.4) – The work in this area will focus on using CFD simulation based reactor design and optimization tools to model novel biomass-to-syngas reactor configurations. The development and use of reduced chemical mechanism representing complex biomass tar and char reactions will be employed.

Defining and Evaluating Performance and Cost Metrics (R&IC Task 5)

The objective of this NETL R&IC Task is to define small-scale (1 MWe), coal and coal/biomass-based energy conversion systems and develop performance and cost estimates for such systems. Efforts will focus on developing cost and performance estimates which, to the extent feasible, represent commercial, state-of-the-art system components at the desired scale.

  • C&CBTL Feasibility Study for 1 MWe Coal to Liquids (Subtask 5.2) – The primary work product of this Subtask will be a feasibility study of a 1 MWe CTL process. The objective of the study is to establish a system definition and provide baseline performance and cost estimates. The study will serve as the benchmark for small-scale CTL processes in order to inform and guide related R&D efforts and develop program goals and metrics.
  • A 1 MWe Coal to Liquids Process with Improved Economics (Subtask 5.4) – This Subtask will be responsible for developing a 1 MWe CTL processes that has an improved economic value over the current SOA process delivered in Subtask 5.2. It will utilize any R&IC technology that is developed as well as extramurally developed technologies, but will utilize at least one reactor that has been optimized using the CFD code developed at NETL.

Liquefaction plant feasibility/impacts

The economic, technical, and financial feasibility of a coal-biomass-to-liquids facility in southern West Virginia was determined and included a market analysis for CBTL fuel. See Recently Completed Projects section below for more information.

Water-gas shift

TDA Research is working to advance coal biomass alternate liquids by developing cost-effective water-gas-shift catalysts.

Systems and Industry Analysis
As part of the support for the Coal and Coal-Biomass to Liquids key technology area, systems studies are being conducted to provide unbiased comparisons of competing technologies, determine the best way to integrate process technology steps, and predict the economic and environmental impacts of successful development.

Recently Completed Projects:

The other key technologies within Coal and Coal-Biomass to Liquids: