Applications of Gasification
Stricter environmental regulations in the near future, along with rising fuel costs will make gasification an option that should be considered for operators of industrial facilities. Gasification allows operators of industrial facilities to convert waste streams into a variety of products which improve plant economics and their environmental impact.
The ability for gasification to co-produce several products makes it extremely conducive to applications at industrial plants. As discussed in the feedstock flexibility page, refineries can benefit from the gasification of a variety of low value fuels (refinery bottoms, biomass or solid waste, or even coal) to produce various products required for plant operations. Hydrogen can be used in the hydrocracking of heavy hydrocarbons for producing salable fuels, among other uses. Electricity generated by a gasification system can offset utility costs for the refinery. And finally, excess steam produced by the system can be used throughout the facility in several processes.
Another example of this is the application of gasification technology in the paper industry. Black liquor, a waste stream by-product of paper production, can be gasified to produce electricity for the rest of the plant. An integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) system enables this conversion to be performed in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner
A final example of an industrial application where gasification technology can improve plant economics is within the glass industry. Currently the glass industry is heavily dependent on a reliable supply of natural gas to keep process temperatures high enough to melt glass. This forces them to pay high premiums to utility companies to ensure a consistent supply of natural gas. The alternative would be to employ gasification to convert coal or some other fuel to produce synthetic natural gas (SNG). The more stable price of coal could reduce fuel costs for the plant, as opposed to natural gas . The production of SNG would also allow for continued use of equipment designed to run on natural gas. For a detailed look at the economics of this gasification application, see Potential Application of Coal-Derived Fuel Gases for the Glass Industry: A Scoping Analysis [PDF-250KB].
As gasification technology becomes more advanced and more applications are researched and demonstrated, applications of this technology could become prevalent in many industries.