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The Department of Energy has invested approximately $16 million in each of four next-generation gasification systems that also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Gasification plants of this nature have the potential to improve power generation efficiency over conventional coal-fired plants. The research projects focus on developing technologies that reduce the cost in deriving syngas from carbon-based materials such as coal. The syngas can then be used as power, chemicals, hydrogen, and for fuels.

The funded research projects will focus on technologies to significantly reduce the cost of producing syngas from fossil fuels, which will enable coal resources to improve the U.S. economy and benefit the environment on a global level.

The four projects selected for funding are:

  • Aerojet Rocketdyne, Inc. (Canoga, California) – Advanced Gasified and Water-Gas Shift Technologies for Low-Cost Coal Conversion to High-Hydrogen Syngas
  • Alstom Power Inc. (Windsor, Connecticut) – OTM Enhanced Coal Syngas for Carbon Capture Power Systems and Fuel Synthesis Applications
  • Praxair (North Tonawanda, New York) – OTM-Enhanced Coal Syngas for Carbon Capture Power Systems and Fuel Synthesis Applications
  • TDA Research Inc. (Wheat Ridge, Colorado) – Integrated WGS/Pre-combustion Carbon Capture Process

The Coal Gasification Systems Program is managed by the Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, and focuses on developing technologies to improve the efficiency of syngas production. This program contributes to creating commercially competitive gasification-based liquid transportation fuel production.

The current regulations limit the number of pounds of carbon that can be released per unit of electricity produced. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average emission rages in the United States from coal-fired generation are: 2, 249 lbs/MWh of carbon dioxide, 13 lbs/MWh of sulfur dioxide and 6 lbs/MWh of nitrogen oxides. The Environmental Protection Agency proposed a Clean Power Plan in October 2014, seeking to further reduce emissions from existing fossil fuel power plants. Technological developments that increase the productivity and efficiency of coal-based syngas production may make new regulations more economically viable for producers.