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Coal is reacted with controlled amounts of oxygen and/or steam at high temperatures to produce syngas (hydrogen and carbon monoxide) which also contains carbon dioxide, methane and water vapour. Gasification involves four stages: drying, pyrolysis, combustion, and gasification reactions.


Technology

What is it?

Coal is reacted with controlled amounts of oxygen and/or steam at high temperatures to produce syngas (hydrogen and carbon monoxide) which also contains carbon dioxide, methane and water vapour. Gasification involves four stages: drying, pyrolysis, combustion, and gasification reactions.

Why is it important?

This process is well understood and established at industrial scale.

Characteristics

  • Inputs: Coal, water, heat
  • By-products: CO2, carbon, other hydrocarbons (temperature dependent)
  • Operating temperature: >500°C
  • Energy efficiency: ~63%

Benefits

  • Established industrial process
  • Other chemicals generated can be useful by-products
  • Higher hydrogen produced per unit of coal compared to coal pyrolysis
  • Cleaner hydrogen product than that obtained from coal pyrolysis

Limitations

  • Impurities in syngas require further separation
  • Low thermal efficiency
  • Produces tar in product gas
  • Requires CCUS to achieve low carbon emissions
  • Remains a higher emitter of carbon dioxide than natural gas-based methods and renewable methods after CCUS is employed
  • High water usage per kilogram hydrogen produced

RD&D priorities

  • Develop and demonstrate effective means of integrating carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) to achieve zero-to-low carbon emissions
  • Develop alternatives to the cryogenic process used to separate oxygen feedstock from air
  • Improve appliance and plant design for greater flexibility in ramping up and ramping down
  • Integrate renewable energy sources. For example, concentrated solar power can act as a thermal energy source for the process
  • Establish environmentally suitable treatment of waste by-products
  • Develop cheap and effective hydrogen separation systems to obtain appropriately pure hydrogen for specific applications
  • Improve reactor design to accommodate highly exothermic or endothermic reactions (e.g. staged introduction of reagents, better designed heat transfer surfaces, process intensification, advanced materials, reaction monitoring/control, pre-treatment of waste streams)

Known active organisations

  • CSIRO
  • Curtin University
  • The University of Adelaide
  • The University of Newcastle

Other opportunities like this

  • A combination of SMR and combustion of the fuel (methane), where steam is added to the oxidation process. The heat from the oxidation component supplies the energy required for the steam reforming process.

  • Thermal energy from concentrated sunlight is used to reacted natural gas with steam to form syngas (a mixture of hydrogen and carbon dioxide).

  • A chemical loop utilises a recyclable metal with water and hydrocarbon feedstocks to produce hydrogen, water and carbon dioxide. The metal is involved in a repeating cycle of reaction steps

Process group

Readiness Level

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