Project No: FC26-98FT40343
Performer: Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.


Jenny Tennant
Gasification Technology Manager
National Energy Technology Laboratory
3610 Collins Ferry Road
P.O. Box 880
Morgantown, WV 26507-0880

Travis Shultz
Project Manager
National Energy Technology Laboratory
3610 Collins Ferry Road
P.O. Box 880
Morgantown, WV   26507-0880

Douglas Bennett
Principal Investigator
Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.
7201 Hamilton Boulevard
Allentown, PA 18195-1501

Award Date:  10/01/1998
Project Date:  03/31/2015

DOE Share: $201,424,093.00
Performer Share: $94,627,299.00
Total Award Value: $296,051,392.00

Performer website: Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. -

Advanced Energy Systems - Gasification Systems

Recovery Act: Development of Ion-Transport Membrane Oxygen Technology for Integration in IGCC and Other Advanced Power Generation Systems

Project Description

Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., (APCI) is currently developing ion-transport membrane (ITM) oxygen separation technology for large-scale oxygen production and for integration with advanced power production facilities, including gasification facilities. The ITM-based oxygen production process uses dense, mixed ion- and electron-conducting (MIEC) materials that can operate at temperatures as high as 900 degrees Celsius (°C). The driving forces for the membrane oxygen separation are determined by the oxygen partial-pressure gradient across the membrane. The energy of the hot, pressurized, non-permeate stream is typically recovered by a gas turbine power generation system. The development of the ITM process will support reduced capital cost and parasitic load of air separation systems compared to that of currently available cryogenic air separation technology. Because air separation is a critical component of the gasification process for power production, any reduction in the cost of this process component will in turn reduce the overall cost of gasification, thereby making the process more competitive.

Ion transport Membrane Wafer Architecture to enable separation of Oxygen from Air.
Ion transport Membrane Wafer Architecture to enable separation of Oxygen from Air

Program Background and Project Benefits

Gasification is used to convert a solid feedstock, such as coal, petcoke, or biomass, into a gaseous form, referred to as synthesis gas or syngas, which is primarily hydrogen and carbon monoxide. With gasification-based technologies, pollutants can be captured and disposed of or converted to useful products. Gasification can generate clean power by adding steam to the syngas in a water-gas-shift reactor to convert the carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide (CO2) and to produce additional hydrogen. The hydrogen and CO2 are separated—the hydrogen is used to make power and the CO2 is sent to storage, converted to useful products or used for EOR. In addition to efficiently producing electric power, a wide range of transportation fuels and chemicals can be produced from the cleaned syngas, thereby providing the flexibility needed to capitalize on the changing economic market. As a result, gasification provides a flexible technology option for using domestically available resources while meeting future environmental emission standards. Polygeneration plants that produce multiple products are uniquely possible with gasification technologies. The Gasification Systems program is developing technologies in three key areas to reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of producing syngas: (1) Feed Systems, (2) Gasifier Optimization and Plant Supporting Systems, and (3) Syngas Processing Systems.

Feed systems research is underway to reduce the cost and increase the efficiency, through design and advanced plant integration, of fuel and oxygen feed to commercial gasifiers. High-pressure solid feed systems will expand the use of our nation's Western low-cost, low-rank coals for high-pressure gasifiers (currently limited to more expensive fuel), enable co-feeding of coal with other advantageous fuels (such as biomass), and encourage higher pressure (and therefore more efficient) operation of dry feed gasifiers. ITM technology will lower the cost of oxygen production through reduced capital costs, and result in more efficient IGCC power plants through turbine integration, as compared to today's commercially available, energy intensive technology for oxygen production—cryogenic air separation.

This Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. project focuses on increasing the efficiency and reducing the capital cost of oxygen (O2) production through development and demonstration of ion transport membrane (ITM) technology.  ITM uses mixed ion and electron conducting materials to produce high temperature/high purity O2 at significantly lower capital than state-of-the-art cryogenic O2 production systems. Specifically, this project will demonstrate a pilot-scale ITM O2 production system, and construct a facility capable of producing the complex modules at a commercially relevant rate.

Air Products and Chemicals also developed a reaction-driven process (Phase IV) under a now complete Congressionally Directed Project. Reaction-driven ITMs are a special class of ceramic oxygen ion transport membranes, which use a driving force for the separation by reacting the permeated oxygen with a fuel. Prior work, under a separate DOE Cooperative Agreement, DE-FC26-97FT96052, developed and evaluated Reaction-driven ITMs, using natural gas, the results of this research effort are documented in the project final report, Air Products and Chemicals. Engineering Development Of Ceramic Membrane Reactor System For Converting Natural Gas To Hydrogen and Synthesis Gas For Liquid Transportation Fuels, 2008.

Project Scope and Technology Readiness Level

This project will develop and scale up a novel, non-cryogenic air separation technology with lower capital cost and energy requirements than conventional cryogenic processes to produce high-temperature/high purity oxygen synergistically with integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) and other advanced power generation technologies.

This project has been through several phases, with some objectives from previous phases already completed. The initial activities focused on materials and process R&D and the design, construction, and operation of an approximately 0.1 ton per day (TPD) Technology Development Unit (TDU). Subsequent activities were focused on testing the performance of full-size ITM Oxygen modules in a 5 TPD sub-scale engineering prototype (SEP) facility specially designed for this purpose. Tests conducted in the SEP generated process information for the current activity.

The current scope includes increasing the scale of the engineering test facility from 5 TPD to approximately 100 TPD of oxygen in an intermediate-scale test unit (ISTU). The ISTU features oxygen production from an ITM-containing vessel coupled with turbo-machinery for power co-production, and will provide data for further scale-up and development. In addition, and to support a larger test facility, expanded efforts in the areas of materials development, engineering development, ceramic processing development, and component testing are being undertaken. The project will also assess the overall reliability of the process relative to the industry standard.

Current scope also includes the development of a dedicated large-scale ITM manufacturing capability (CerFab), funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), needed to support a future 2000 TPD oxygen test facility. APCI will design, construct, and commission the CerFab and assess its operating capabilities during a short-term module production campaign. Advanced materials and production techniques will be developed to support the design and operation of the CerFab. The manufacturing capability will be based on ongoing development work in ceramic material and membrane module processing with an emphasis on industrial carbon capture, as well as knowledge developed during the earlier part of the program. In addition, assessments of low-carbon industrial applications of ITM technology will be made.

The Technology Readiness Level (TRL) assessment identifies the current state of readiness of the key technologies being developed under the DOE’s Clean Coal Research Program.  In FY 12, this project was assessed a TRL of 4.

The TRL assessment process and its results including definition and description of the levels may be found in the "2012 Technology Readiness Assessment-Analysis of Active Research Portfolio".