Project No: FE0012066
Performer: Research Triangle Institute (RTI)


Jenny Tennant 
Technology Manager
Gasification Systems
National Energy Technology Laboratory
3610 Collins Ferry Road
P.O. Box 880, MS B17
Morgantown, WV 26507-0880
(304) 285-4830

K. David Lyons
Project Manager
National Energy Technology Laboratory
3610 Collins Ferry Road
P.O. Box 880, MS PO3B
Morgantown, WV 26507-0880
(304) 285-4379

Brian S. Turk
RTI International
P.O. Box 12194
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

Award Date:  10/01/2013
Project Date:  06/30/2015

DOE Share: $1,198,703.00
Performer Share: $299,676.00
Total Award Value: $1,498,379.00

Performer website: Research Triangle Institute (RTI) -

Advanced Energy Systems - Gasification Systems

Benefits of Integrating Aerojet Rocketdyne and RTI Advanced Gasification Technologies for Hydrogen-Rich Syngas Production

Project Description

The objective of this project is to reduce the cost of coal gasification by reducing plant fuel, operating, and capital costs and increasing overall plant efficiency. The fundamental challenge to gasification for power generation and coal-to-liquids production is to achieve an overall syngas conversion process and production costs that are competitive with other conversion technologies and alternative feedstocks such as natural gas. Previous studies by the U.S, Department of Energy (DOE) and others have indicated that this challenge cannot be addressed by improving only one step in the overall gasification process. Researchers will assess the potential for substantially reducing the production cost of hydrogen (H2)-rich syngas via gasification with near-zero emissions due to the cumulative, synergistic improvements achieved when multiple advanced technologies are incorporated into the overall conversion process.

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 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.

Syngas processing research and development underway emphasizes technologies that can be efficiently integrated into the plant, optimized with the temperature and pressure requirements of other systems, and meet product delivery specifications. A major cost element in gasification plants is converting raw syngas into a pure and specific gas used to create the plant’s target product suite. High-hydrogen, low-methane, ultraclean syngas is versatile and can be used for power production with CO2 capture, fuels or chemicals production, and for many polygeneration applications. The technologies being developed are focused on high-efficiency processes that operate at moderate to high temperatures and clean syngas of all contaminants to the extremely low levels needed for chemical production—often significantly lower than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required levels for power plants.

Research Triangle Institute will assess the potential for integration of advanced technologies to substantially reduce capital and production costs for hydrogen-rich syngas with near-zero emissions from coal gasification for power production with carbon capture and for coal-to-liquids (specifically methanol) with carbon capture. Specifically, integrated technologies considered in the analysis will include those already tested successfully at pilot-scale – Aerojet Rocketdyne (formerly Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne) gasifier (including advances in dry solids feed systems) and RTI warm gas cleanup -- with a new and innovative water-gas-shift technology, to show how multiple advanced technologies will leverage each other for significant cost and efficiency gains.

The study Advanced Gasifier Pilot Plant Concept Definition prepared by Aerojet Rocketdyne (formerly Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne) developed a concept for a gasification pilot plant incorporating advanced technologies. The current project will further assess the potential of incorporation of advanced technologies including RTI warm gas cleanup and advances in dry solids feed systems.

Project Scope and Technology Readiness Level

The primary effort will focus on developing preliminary conceptual designs for utilizing novel advanced gasification and warm syngas cleanup technologies and conducting techno-economic analyses of the designs. Project personnel will use current DOE/NETL techno-economic evaluations—for both current state-of-the-art IGCC with carbon capture and methanol production with carbon capture—as the basis for relative comparisons with these advanced technologies. A combination of these technologies will be used to systematically evaluate and optimize the benefits associated with each technology. Technical experts will review each advanced technology design to ensure that they are conceptually correct and accurate. The techno-economic analyses for the integrated gasification and combined cycle power generation and methanol production cases are organized as separate tasks in order to (1) maintain a specific focus on the objectives, (2) exploit application-specific integration issues, and (3) enable parallel effort on these two applications. Experimental activity includes collecting key data that will be used to evaluate promising process configurations for H2 enrichment of the syngas. This H2 enrichment task focuses on demonstrating key technical requirements for the process and evaluating the subsequent research and development effort needed to achieve commercial deployment.

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".