Canadian Biomass Magazine

New gasification technology for coal and biomass

April 3, 2012
By Energy & Environmental Research Center

Apr. 3, 2012. Grand Forks, ND - The Energy & Environmental Research Center at the University of North Dakota, along with Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Inc. have announced the commissioning of a unique commercial-scale gasification technology on Tuesday, April 10, 2012.

Apr. 3, 2012, Grand Forks, ND – The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University of North Dakota, along with one of its major corporate partners, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Inc. (PWR), announces the commissioning of a unique commercial-scale gasification technology on Tuesday, April 10, 2012. A reception will be held beginning at 1:00 p.m., with a program, remarks, and commissioning beginning at 1:30 p.m. in the EERC’s Discovery Hall.
The prototype dry solids feed pump system developed by PWR can process 400 tons/day of solid fuels, such as coal and biomass, and paves the way for high-efficiency, low-emission gasification.
“The system is designed to align with the needs of a commercial-scale plant, so testing it at the EERC is a perfect fit,” said Tim Saunders, PWR Integrated Process Team Leader. “The fact that the EERC is experienced in coal and coal handling and has the facilities to accommodate a commercial-scale unit prototype makes the EERC an ideal location for verifying performance characteristics on the pump.”
A variety of coal feedstocks will be tested with the pump over the next 12 months.

“This demonstration emphasizes the practical, problem solving, commercial deployment of new technologies at the EERC,” said EERC Director Gerald Groenewold. “It is one of many strategic partnerships between the EERC and the private sector focused on demonstration of cutting-edge technologies, allowing the utilization of fossil fuels in an extremely clean, environmentally friendly scenario that allows for long-term energy security for our country.”
The development of the technology is a result of a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), PWR, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company, Alberta Innovates – Energy and Environment Solutions, and the EERC.
 “This project stems from interest on the part of DOE and NETL to commercialize gasification as a strategic energy platform,” Saunders said. “This is an opportunity for us to utilize our natural resources efficiently and, most importantly, cleanly, which is what the whole gasification process is expected to provide,” he said.
Distinguished guests at the commissioning ceremony will include Governor Jack Dalrymple;
U.S. Senator Kent Conrad; U.S. Senator John Hoeven; U.S. Representative Rick Berg; Mr. Charles McConnell, Chief Operating Officer, Office of Fossil Energy, DOE; Dr. Anthony Cugini, Director, NETL; Dr. Michael Brown, Grand Forks Mayor; and Mr. Jim Maser, President, PWR.
The ceremony will showcase the technology, which is designed to feed a wide range of fuels, including coals, petcoke, and coal–biomass blends at a higher pressure (1200 psi) than any current gasifier. The high pressure allows such solid fuels to be utilized more efficiently and cleanly. It also
allows the gasification system equipment to be scaled down in size, reducing the overall cost of the gasification process.
PWR’s compact gasifier is designed to provide a 90% decrease in size compared to competing systems, thereby enabling higher efficiency, and as much as a 25% reduction in cost with enhanced reliability. In addition, the cost to build a commercial-scale compact gasification plant using PWR’s technology is estimated to be 20% less than conventional gasification plants. It’s also expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 10% compared to standard gasification technologies.
Design of the system was cofunded by DOE NETL, with the understanding that the pump will be made commercially available to U.S. companies in support of several gasification technologies.
The commissioning ceremony is open to the public. More than 300 people are expected.

About the EERC

The EERC is a research, development, demonstration, and commercialization facility recognized as one of the world’s leading developers of cleaner, more efficient energy technologies as well as environmental technologies to protect and clean our air, water, and soil. The EERC, a high-tech, nonprofit division of the University of North Dakota, operates like a business and pursues an entrepreneurial, market-driven approach to research and development in order to successfully demonstrate and commercialize innovative technologies.    
About PWR


PWR, a part of Pratt & Whitney, is a preferred provider of high-value propulsion, power, energy, and innovative system solutions used in a wide variety of government and commercial applications, including engines for launch vehicles, missile defense systems, and advanced hypersonic engines. Behind its successful designs, manufacturing processes, and hardware are Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne’s research and development engineers, who solve tough problems in extreme environments.    
About Al-EES

AI-EES is the lead agency for energy and environmental research and innovation in Alberta.  AI-EES brings together decision makers from government, industry, and the resource community, as well as research and technology organizations, to develop solutions for the biggest challenges facing Alberta's energy and environment sectors.

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