Coal gasification

The Australian firm GTL Energy has been selected to deliver its coal beneficiation technology for a coal-gasification plant in southwest North Dakota.

The so-called $1.4bn South Heart project is being developed through a joint venture between project partners Great Northern Power Development (GNPD) and Allied Syngas. It will use North Dakota lignite and seven gasifiers to produce up to 100mmcf/day of pipeline quality natural gas that potentially will be used in-state or sold nationwide.

Coal beneficiation is the process of upgrading the coal, such as North Dakota’s lignite, prior to the gasification process, making it a more efficient energy source with reduced emissions. In addition, removing the excess water from the lignite creates an alternative source of water, lessening the need from other sources.

GTL Energy’s proprietary process is a low temperature beneficiating technology which has been thoroughly tested on coals from around the world. This technology will produce stable briquettes with less moisture and higher energy content from the South Heart lignite.

‘The beneficiated coal will yield a higher heating value, improving its energy efficiency, resulting in a smaller environmental footprint,’ said Chuck Kerr, president and CEO of GNPD.

In addition to their commitment to establish a commercial installation of the GTL Energy process at South Heart, GNPD and Allied Syngas are to acquire a direct ownership position in GTL Energy.

GNPD itself was created to develop energy projects incorporating the coal and lignite reserves owned by its affiliated partnership Great Northern Properties Limited Partnership (GNP), the US’s largest private owner of coal reserves.

Allied Syngas and its affiliate Envirotherm, a co-owner of the gasification technology that will be used at the plant, are part of Allied Resource. Formed in 1994, Allied Resource is an industrial services company focused on environmental services, industrial processing and recycling.

Construction of the plant is expected to begin in late 2009/early 2010, with completion in 2012.