PITA Fiscal Year 2007 Projects

Environmental Technologies

Economic Utilization of Gas Produced from Clean Coal Technology
Development of clean methods to utilize Pennsylvania’s vast resources of coal can ensure a robust energy future, delivering both electricity and gas for industry and homes. Presently, the uncertainty associated with both capital cost and daily demand fluctuations creates a barrier for investors. We propose to quantify the costs and revenues of two promising methods to reduce cost and increase revenue: storing the gas (which is largely H2 and CO), and methanating the gas to create synthetic natural gas.

We will examine the technical and economic issues associated with the storage of coal derived synthetic gas (syngas). Currently, syngas is primarily used either as a feed stock for chemical production or as a fuel for providing baseload electricity generation, such as in integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) facilities. Storing syngas, instead of using it immediately, as is current practice, has the potential to expand the number of ways that syngas can profitably be used, providing additional resource and economic benefits to producers and, ultimately, to consumers. Storage of syngas may provide polygeneration gasification facilities the flexibility to switch output streams (a time-consuming operation) while continuing to operate the gasifier. Stored syngas may be used to produce electricity in gas turbines during periods of peak demand when produced electricity is most valuable and prices are highest, while operating the gasifier at the most efficient sustained production rate. Stored syngas may be a means to enhance the reliability and availability of IGCC power plants, by increasing the availability of syngas during planned and unplanned outages. Without storage, the coal gasification facility must be sized to the gas turbine or other facility that uses the gas. Storage allows the two units to be sized and run separately, thus gaining valuable flexibility. Storage may be a means to integrate intermittent renewable resources into the grid at low cost, with stored syngas generating electricity when the wind is not blowing.