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Systems Integration

Systems Integration

Systems Integration focuses on increasing availability, reliability, efficiency, and flexibility of integrated gasification-based systems, which will result in improved overall performance and lowered costs. Advances in this area will address challenging scenarios faced by gasification-based systems, such as integrating into power grids along with intermittently available renewable energy technologies like solar and wind. This addresses a market need for fossil energy-based systems to operate with high cycling, possibly with incorporation of energy storage, and other innovations to enable load-following of the evolving power grid. Systems integration technologies will also aid in other scenarios implemented as distributed energy resources in off-grid remote applications.


Other key technologies specifically address air separation, gasification, and syngas cleanup and conversion, but there is a need for efficient and cost-effective integration of these unit operations with each other and with balance of plant systems. Furthermore, interfacing coal gasification-based systems with turbines, solid oxide fuel cells (e.g. in Integrated Gasification Fuel Cell cycle), and even non-fossil energy technologies such as solar and wind power are of concern in systems integration. The latter calls for load-following capabilities in fossil energy-based systems, which is a relatively new demand on coal systems which have been traditionally base load-oriented.


Modularity is an important enabling principle for systems integration. Higher availability and flexibility of units/systems with lower maintenance costs is an inherent advantage of modularized systems, in which multiple modules/trains are present, enabling substantial throughput even when certain modules are out of service for maintenance or repair. Also, systems integration of modular systems can enable efficient conforming to site-specific resources and environmental needs or beneficial opportunities.

Systems Studies

Field studies/Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) studies are underway for coal gasification-based pilots in Alaska (modular, air-blown fixed-bed gasifier with syngas cleanup, with the syngas fueling an existing diesel engine generator providing power regulation to a wind farm on the shared grid) and eastern Kentucky (a 5-MW-electrical-equivalent polygenerating unit located in Hazard, eastern Kentucky) have strong emphasis on modular systems integration and determination of system performance.

Making Coal Relevant for Small Scale Applications: Modular Gasification for Syngas/Engine CHP Applications in Challenging Environments

Gasification CHP from Coal Fines

These projects are also considered relevant to Market-Optimized Design and are discussed in that area as well.

Modeling and Simulation for Systems Integration/Optimization

NETL has been performing cutting-edge work in hardware simulation and cyber-physical systems, creating virtual environments in which control system behavior and transient/dynamic system behavior can be studied. This opens the possibility for virtual system characterization at low cost, which can guide the way for more efficient and effective implementation of more costly actual system prototypes later on. Systems of interest include hybrid systems containing gasifiers, syngas treatment and conversion, fuel cells, and turbines. In future work, it is likely that REMS could be studied in this way with significant cost savings and acceleration of systems design. The cyber-physical modeling/simulation approach should enable powerful systems integration optimization and cost savings.

Systems Engineering & Analysis (SE&A) of Modular-Scale Applications of Advanced Gasification Technologies, Onsite NETL Research

SE&A work is aimed at understanding the performance and cost benefits that may be recognized through the application of advanced gasification technologies in small-scale modular applications. Specific focus is on definition of small-scale (1 MWe), coal and coal/biomass-based energy conversion systems and developing performance and cost estimates for such systems:

  • Gasification Feasibility Study for 1 MWe Coal to Power—consists of baselining a 1 MWe coal gasification-based combined heat and power (CHP) system and exploring technical and market constraints to a wide range of small-scale applications. This system would utilize commercially available, state-of-the-art components and technology.

  • A 1 MWe Coal to Heat and Power Process with Improved Economics—NETL plans on performing technoeconomic analysis of advanced gasification technologies that are not currently commercially available but may be suitable for small-scale applications (~1 MWe) and may result in improved system economics compared to the current commercial technology-based baseline process. NETL-developed technology and other developmental technologies might be assumed to be incorporated in the advanced process. To the extent that sufficient progress has been made, at least one reactor that has been optimized using the CFD code developed at NETL may be included in this advanced process for evaluation.

Other key technologies within Gasification Systems include the following:


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