Applications of Gasification – IGCC
Integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) is the term used to describe the generation of electricity (by the “combined cycle”) through gasification of several potential feedstocks (most typically coal, petcoke, or biomass), as detailed in the IGCC section.
In the 1960s, the U.S. Government initiated studies to determine if coal was feasible as a gas turbine fuel. In these tests, coal was pulverized and mixed with various liquids prior to being fired in a gas turbine combustor. The result of these tests was that gas turbines are not capable of directly combusting pulverized or slurried coal for electrical production.
Following up on the results of the tests in the 1960s, the U.S. Government sponsored studies which evaluated the potential for firing synthesis gas (syngas) produced via coal gasification in gas turbines. These studies, done in the 1970s, led directly to the first successful demonstration of the basic IGCC concept at a commercial scale, the Cool Water Project, part of DOE’s Clean Coal Technology (CCT) Program. The Cool Water Project was conducted in Southern California, and was a five-year R&D project running from 1984 through 1989. Texaco gasifier technology (now owned by GE) was used to produce syngas to feed a GE-7E gas turbine based combined cycle. A net power generation capacity of 96 MWe was achieved using bituminous coal as a fuel and 99.5% pure oxygen as the oxidant. The lessons learned in the Cool Water Project provided a sound basis for the advancement of IGCC design. Throughout the 1990s several commercial IGCC plants were put into operation as IGCC technology matured.
Described below are four operational, commercial-scale, coal IGCC plants, two in the U.S. and two in Europe. Each has been operational for about a decade, experiencing similar availabilities (around 80%) and similar operational issues, including the fouling of heat exchangers.
- Wabash River Coal Gasification Repowering Project
The first full-size commercial IGCC plant in the United States, the Wabash project successfully repowered a 1950s era, pulverized coal plant. Beginning as a DOE demonstration project, it is capable of delivering 262 MW to the power grid. Construction began in July 1993 with operations commencing in November 1995.
- Tampa Electric Integrated Gasification Combined-Cycle Project
Capable of delivering 250 MW to the grid, construction on this first U.S. “greenfield" commercial IGCC plant began in late 1991 with operations commencing in late 1996. Built as a DOE demonstration plant it was later sold to Tampa Electric and began commercial operation in 2001.
- Willem Alexander IGCC Plant in Buggenum, Netherlands
Commissioned in 1994, this plant is one of the first commercial IGCC plants in the world. In 1998, it began delivering 253 MW (net).
- ELCOGAS IGCC Plant in Puertollano, Spain
One of the largest commercial IGCC projects in the world, this plant produces 330 MW (net) using a 50/50 coal and petcoke feed. Operations with syngas began in 1998.
In addition, there are several other notable IGCC plants in operation or development and many of these plants are examined in this linked report: