Project No: FE0008350
Performer: Gas Technology Institute

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

Charles Miller
Project Manager
National Energy Technology Laboratory
626 Cochrans Mill Road
P.O. Box 10940, MS 922-273C
Pittsburgh, PA 15236-0940
Serguei Zelepouga

Principal Investigator
Gas Technology Institute
1700 South Mount Prospect Road
Des Plaines, IL 60018-1804

Award Date:  08/01/2012
Project Date:  01/31/2015

DOE Share: $485,423.00
Performer Share: $141,000.00
Total Award Value: $626,423.00

Performer website: Gas Technology Institute -

Advanced Energy Systems - Gasification Systems

Development of Prototype Commercial Gasifier Sensor

Project Description

This project further develops and demonstrates the sensor technology developed under a previous project, "Real Time Flame Monitoring of Gasifier Burner and Injectors" DE-FC26-02NT41585. GTI developed a reliable, practical, and cost-effective means of monitoring coal gasifier feed injector flame characteristics using a modified version of an optical flame sensor. The present work begins with modification of the sensor software to enable real-time temperature data acquisition, data processing, and provision of the collected gasifier temperature information to the gasifier operators. A new purging system will be developed to eliminate or significantly reduce the deposition of fine black powder on the optical probe window during sensor operation with the goal of increasing the period of continuous deposit-free operation to six months. The modified gasifier sensor will be installed at the Wabash River commercial gasifier in Vigo County Indiana and tested over a six-month period to evaluate the sensor’s accuracy and durability. The project team will prepare a commercialization plan describing the product, the market, and the business activities required to make this new technology available for industrial use.

Conceptual Schematic of Sensor Installation on a Coal Gasifier.

Conceptual Schematic of Sensor Installation on a Coal Gasifier.
Figure provided courtesy of Gas Technology Institute.

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 (WGS) 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 enhanced oil recovery. 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.

Gasifier Optimization and Plant Supporting System technologies under development are targeted at increasing gasifier availability and efficiency, improving performance, and reducing the capital and operating costs of advanced gasification plants. Ongoing R&D projects are developing more durable refractory materials, creating models to better understand the kinetics and particulate behavior of fuel inside a gasifier, and developing practical solutions to mitigate the plugging and fouling of syngas coolers. Future work will focus on the development of cutting edge gasifier technologies, which will start with multiple competing concepts and continue with support of the most aggressive and successful technologies being developed, both in the Gasification Systems program and other DOE programs, to reduce the cost of coal gasification. Future work will also aim to reduce the amount of water used in gasification plants and integrate technologies throughout the plant and beyond in a holistic approach to increase efficiency and reduce costs (e.g., the optimization of gasification plants to sell CO2 for EOR applications).

This Gas Technology Institute (GTI) project focuses on improving flame sensors' design, reliability and sensitivity. Flame sensors, which are used to monitor gasifier flames in order to determine when maintenance is required on feed injectors, must function in the harsh gasification environment of high temperatures, high pressures, a highly reducing atmosphere, and the presence of ash or slag. Improved flame sensors will enable better control of gasifier operation, and potentially leading to increased efficiency and decreased downtime associated with gasifier maintenance.

This project is a follow on to a previous project which developed and demonstrated GTI's sensor technology; see "Real Time Flame Monitoring of Gasifier Burner and Injectors" DE-FC26-02NT41585.

Project Scope and Technology Readiness Level

The plan is to develop and demonstrate a reliable, practical, and cost effective prototype of a commercial gasifier sensor capable of measuring temperature and other operational conditions inside a gasifier in real time. The real time data obtained from the new sensor will enable the Wabash River Coal Gasification Plant Duke Power operators to improve refractory lifespan, process efficiency, and safety.

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. This project has not been assessed.

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".


GTI has installed the modified gasifier sensor at the Wabash River Coal Gasification Plant and the six month test is underway.