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Coal gasification

AUTHOR: Rohan Fernando
DATE: October 2008

Gasification is the reaction of a fuel with a combination of air, oxygen and steam to produce a gaseous product which can be used either as a source of energy or as a raw material for the synthesis of chemicals, liquid fuels or other gaseous fuels. Gasification was originally used to produce cleaner fuels for domestic and industrial use and subsequently for electricity generation. In recent years, interest in coal gasification has increased greatly. The considerable increase in the price of crude oil and natural gas and concerns about their security of supply have focused attention on whether fuel for the power industry and feedstocks for the chemical industry can be obtained from the gasification of coal. In particular, the rapid economic growth in China has driven a huge demand for gasification to produce chemicals and fertilisers from its extensive coal reserves. Moreover, the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants has enhanced the prospects of power generation from integrated gasification combined cycle plant.

This report first considers the fundamental chemical processes occurring in a gasifier. It discusses the use of coal gasification in the chemicals industry and for the production of liquid fuels. It also considers what operational issues have arisen in the use of these gasification technologies in IGCC systems. The report then describes the operation of the different types of gasifiers available on the market and what technical advances there have been in gasifier technologies in recent years. The suitability of the syngas produced by these gasifiers for CO2 removal prior to combustion is also discussed.