US-based GreatPoint Energy plans to build a plant to demonstrate the effectiveness of its catalytic gasification technology that can convert coal, petroleum coke and biomass into clean natural gas, while simultaneously capturing and sequestering CO2.
The pilot-scale coal gasification plant will be built at power provider Dominion’s Brayton Point power station, the largest power generating facility in New England.
GreatPoint Energy’s technology “refines” coal by employing a novel catalyst to “crack” the carbon bonds and transform the coal into clean burning methane, or natural gas. This single stage process is called catalytic coal methanation.
By adding a catalyst to the coal gasification system, the company is able to reduce the operating temperature in the gasifier, while directly promoting the reactions that yield methane. Under these mild “catalytic” conditions, less expensive reactor components are required, pipeline grade methane is produced, and very low cost carbon sources can be used as feedstocks.
Initially, the company intends to use biomass feeds, such as wood chips, corn stover and switchgrass in the demonstration plant, investing more than $25m in the plant and an associated R&D centre.
Upon the completion of construction of the plant and research complex, which is expected to take twelve months, GreatPoint Energy intends to develop full-scale facilities around North America. It says that the commercial gasification facilities will be located where the CO2 removed from the feed can be sequestered in geological formations or used for enhanced oil recovery.