- 3:40 PM

Gasification at a Crossroad

Amos Avidan and Lee Schmoe. Bechtel Corporation, 3000 Post Oak Boulevard, Houston, TX 77056-6503

Gasification of coal has been practiced commercially for more than a century. Synthesis gas is one of the fundamental building blocks of the chemical industry, and it is likely to keep its prominence for decades to come. The rate of commercialization of gasification has accelerated in recent years with most of the activity focused in China, and more recently in the US and other countries.

Gasification is used today to convert a wide range of carbon-containing materials into clean synthesis gas. The reactions take place in a reducing atmosphere at elevated pressures and temperatures. Metals and mineral matters in the fuel are melted and recovered as slag. Pollutants, such as sulfur oxides, mercury and particulates are removed from the syngas prior to further processing to chemicals or prior to combustion in gas turbines (IGCC). Gasification today is not able to capitalize on one of its main features - the ability to capture a concentrated stream of CO2, with proven technology and cost-effectively. In a carbon constrained world, this benefit could further increase interest in this technology. High sustained energy prices are further contributing to the use of gasification to convert coal, petroleum coke, biomass, trash, and other carbon-containing materials to power, steam, hydrogen, substitute natural gas (SNG), chemicals, and fuels.