Coal gasification for low-emission power generation
CSIRO’s gasification and syngas research is supporting the transition to high-efficiency coal-based energy systems capable of operating with near-zero emissions.
22 February 2010 | Updated 13 July 2012
CSIRO is developing technology solutions for high-efficiency low-emission power generation from coal
The coal gasification process uses the reaction of coal with oxygen and steam to create syngas, a combustible mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen.
Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) plants combust this syngas in a combined-cycle turbine system to produce electricity.
Syngas is also widely used as a feedstock for the production of chemicals and liquid fuels.
Next-generation IGCC systems will produce hydrogen for use as a fuel, for example in fuel cells, and capture the CO2 produced by this process in a form ready for sequestration.
CSIRO’s research program informs gasification plant development and supports the adoption of high-efficiency power generation technologies by industry in Australia and overseas.
CSIRO research aims to improve performance, reduce costs and increase the scale of gasification systems so they can be implemented economically in competitive low-emissions energy markets.
The future of gasification
Advanced IGCC plants that incorporate carbon capture and storage will play an important role in reducing carbon emissions from electricity and industrial sources.
CSIRO’s syngas cleaning, processing and membrane-based gas separation research aims to improve performance, reduce costs and increase the scale of these gasification systems.
We are also conducting a number of fundamental research projects to examine the complex processes that occur during gasification.
Collaboration with international research organisations ensures that development work and performance evaluation using local and international coals continues to be relevant.
CSIRO is working with the Federal Government’s Australian National Low Emissions Coal Research and Development body, State Governments and Universities to develop a national research program for low-emissions technologies.
We partner local power generation and coal companies as well as international gasification technology vendors to lower risks and costs associated with a transition to gasification-based, low-emissions energy systems.
CSIRO undertakes a number of projects for the Australian Coal Association Research Program and our gasification and syngas expertise is used in complimentary science areas such as biomass conversion.
Coal gasification behaviour: CSIRO’s Pressurised Entrained Flow Reactor and associated laboratory equipment allow CSIRO scientists to investigate in detail complex high pressure, high temperature coal gasification reaction processes. The results can be linked to measurements of coal performance under pilot-scale gasification conditions.
Gasification fundamentals: Fundamental aspects of slag formation and flow, as well as gas–solid reaction processes, are key to the development of accurate and reliable models of the gasification process.
Syngas cleaning: CSIRO is developing innovative technologies to overcome the limitations in existing gas cleaning processes, including advanced techniques for cleaning candle filters and gas cleaning using agglomeration and sorbent techniques.
Syngas processing: CSIRO is developing catalysts for the water gas shift (WGS) reaction between carbon monoxide and steam, which is a key step in hydrogen and liquid fuels based energy systems and in the production of a high pressure CO2 stream suitable for capture and sequestration. CSIRO’s catalyst expertise is also used in related ‘solar gas’ research where catalysts are an important part of capturing solar energy in solar-fossil hybrid systems.
Membranes for gas separation: The separation of H2 from CO2 is an important part of advanced IGCC for H2 production and CO2 capture. CSIRO undertakes materials development and testing research to produce alloy membranes for H2 production that are of a scale and cost suitable for coal-based energy systems.
Find out more about CSIRO’s research into Coal gasification: from fundamentals to application.