Project No: FE0005349
Performer: Gas Technology Institute


Jenny Tennant
Coal and Coal/Biomass to Liquids
Technology Manager
National Energy Technology Laboratory
3610 Collins Ferry Road
P.O. Box 880
Morgantown, WV 26507-0880

Arun Bose
Project Manager
National Energy Technology Laboratory
626 Cochrans Mill Road
P.O. Box 10940
Pittsburgh, PA 15236-0940

James Irvin
Principal Investigator
Gas Technology Institute
1700 S. Mount Prospect Rd
Des Plaines, IL 60018-1804

Award Date:  10/01/2010
Project Date:  12/31/2014

DOE Share: $1,000,465.00
Performer Share: $250,174.00
Total Award Value: $1,250,639.00

Performer website: Gas Technology Institute -

Advanced Energy Systems - Coal and Coal/Biomass to Liquids

R&D to Prepare and Characterize Robust Coal/Biomass Mixtures for Direct Co-Feeding into Gasification

Project Description

The research team will subject lignocellulosic biomass (plant biomass that is composed of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin), in the form of loblolly pine (a lignocellulosic, short rotation woody crop), to hydrothermal carbonization (HTC), creating a densified coal-like product by exposing biomass feedstocks to heat and pressure in the presence of water. The process will deconstruct the lignocellulosic feedstock to produce aqueous and solid streams. The first stage of this work will occur at a small bench-scale facility at the Desert Research Institute to determine optimal HTC processing parameters and develop accurate mass and energy balances. The second stage will utilize larger sample sizes at a larger, dedicated Process Development Unit (PDU). Initially, the HTC product will be mixed with ground coal, pelletized, and assessed for strength and grindability. The durability of lignin and similar binders in wood when subjected to HT will be assessed. In a later phase, loblolly pine samples will be processed using HTC and internally mixed with ground coal within the PDU so that it can be directly formed to a final densified product, which will also be assessed for strength and grindability. GTI will use Aspen software (Aspen Technology, Inc.) to carry out process simulations based on engineering results attained during the project. These simulations will provide the technical basis for developing a techno-economic analysis to evaluate the economic viability of HTC for producing a new coal/HTC biomass fuel.

Small Bench-scale Semi-continuous Process Development Unit

Wood Chip Sorter

Small Bench-scale Semi-continuous Process Development Unit Wood Chip Sorter

Program Background and Project Benefits

The Department of Energy (DOE) is committed to supporting research focused on making use of the nation's coal and biomass resources. The Coal and Coal Biomass to Liquids (C&CBTL) Technology Program at DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is developing advanced technologies to remove technical barriers that will foster the commercial adoption of coal and coal/biomass gasification technologies for the production of affordable hydrogen and liquid fuels (such as gasoline, diesel, aviation, and military fuels). The hydrogen can be used in advanced systems for efficient power generation produced with near-zero emissions and with the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The synthesis gas (syngas) produced by the gasification of coal and coal/biomass mixtures can be converted by chemical processes to generate clean liquid hydrocarbon fuels. To successfully complete the development of C&CBTL technologies from the present state to the point of commercial readiness, the C&CBTL Program efforts are focused on two Key Technologies: (1) Coal/Biomass Feed and Gasification, and (2) Advanced Fuels Synthesis.

The Coal/Biomass Feed and Gasification Key Technology is advancing scientific knowledge of the production of liquid hydrocarbon fuels from coal and/or coal-biomass mixtures. Activities support research for handling and processing of coal/biomass mixtures, ensuring those mixtures are compatible with feed delivery systems, identifying potential impacts on downstream components, catalyst and reactor optimization, and characterizing the range of products and product quality.

This Gas Technology Institute project will develop biomass from loblolly pine, to a densified coal-like product suitable for fuel in a CBLT process.  The impact of this project will be to develop a cost-effective gasification-based CBTL process to produce renewable liquid fuels that will provide diversity of fuel supply and energy security while resulting in lower future capital and operating costs. Specifically, this project will deconstruct the lignocellulosic feedstock using hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) to produce samples for property testing; from the characteristic data, simulations will be conducted to perform techno-economic analysis to evaluate the viability of HTC for producing a new coal/HTC biomass fuel.