Pratt and Whitney‘s Rocketdyne arm and the Alberta Energy Research Institute (AERI) of Canada are working together to develop gasification technology aimed at decreasing the cost of processing Alberta’s unconventional oil resources.
Under an agreement signed between the two companies, Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne will demonstrate its gasification technology by gasifying petroleum coke, a waste product extracted from oil-saturated sands. The gasification process converts petroleum coke into synthesis gas, which can be used to produce hydrogen, steam and electricity.
Pratt and Whitney will also develop conceptual plans and estimate the cost to construct a commercial-scale demonstration plant in Alberta.
Alberta’s oil sands, stretching over an area larger than the state of Florida, hold oil reserves second only to Saudi Arabia. The sands contain vast deposits of bitumen: thick, molasses-like oil that requires processing before it can be used as a conventional energy source.
Last October, Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne entered into a similar agreement with ExxonMobil to develop and test the gasification technology with trial runs in pilot plants at the Gas Technologies Institute in Des Plaines, Illinois, and the Energy and Environmental Research Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota.