As has been documented in the West Virginia Coal Association's reports of Research and Development a number of times, as for one example in:
Coal to Methanol - Eastman & Air Products | Research & Development | News; concerning a report published two decades ago, back in 1995:
"'Commercial-Scale Demonstration of a Liquid-Phase Methanol Process'; Steven L. Cook; Eastman Chemical Company; Kingsport,TN 37662; Abstract: The Eastman Chemical Company operates a coal gasification complex in Kingsport. Tennessee. The primary output of this plant is carbonylation-derived acetic anhydride. The required methyl acetate is made from methanol and acetic acid. Methanol is currently produced from syngas ... . (Syngas made from Coal.) A liquid-phase methanol process (LPMEOHIM) has been developed by Air Products. Efficient heat removal permits the direct use of syngas without the need for the shift reactor. An Air Products/Eastman joint venture, with partial funding from the Department of Energy under the Clean Coal Technology Program, has been formed to build a demonstration-scale liquid-phase methanol plant. This talk will focus on the unique features of this plant and how it will be integrated into the existing facilities. Eastman Chemical Company has practiced the carbonylation of methyl acetate to acetic anhydride for many years.In an array of integrated plants, coal is gasified and the resulting synthesis gas purified to a high degree. This gas, which consists chiefly of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, is used to feed the chemical plants. Methanol is produced in one plant by the Lurgi low-pressure gas-phase process. The syngas needed for these plants is produced by two high-pressure gasifiers. High-sulfur coal is ground and fed to these gasifiers as a water slurry with pure oxygen. The hot gas is scrubbed with water to reduce the temperature and remove ash. A portion of the crude syngas is routed to a water-gas shift reactor to enrich the stream in hydrogen so that the stoichiometry required for methanol synthesis can be attained. Hydrogen sulfide is then scrubbed from the gas streams and converted to elemental sulfur. ... In a methanol plant, the reaction between carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen is exothermic and, because of the fixed bed reactor design, heat control and removal is of prime concern. (Benefits) resulting from (the Eastman/Air Products) configuration are that the H2/CO/CO2 stoichiometry need not be controlled as closely ... and carbon dioxide can be present in high concentrations";
the Eastman Chemical and Air Products companies have worked together for quite a few years operating a factory in Kingsport, Tennessee, where Coal is gasified, that is, partially combusted, and made to form a blend of synthesis gas, or "syngas", comprised primarily of Hydrogen and Carbon Monoxide, with some Carbon Dioxide content; and, the syngas is subsequently catalytically condensed into fuel alcohol Methanol, and other valuable products, and, the Methanol itself is further processed into even more products.
In passing, we note, that, as seen for just two examples in our reports of:
Pennsylvania Converts More Coal to Methanol | Research & Development | News; concerning, in part: "United States Patent 5,284,878 - Liquid Phase Methanol Process with CO-rich Recycle; 1994; Inventor: David Studer and Elizabeth Schaub, PA; Assignee: Air Products and Chemicals, Incorporated, Allentown; Abstract: Methanol is produced by reacting a CO-rich synthesis gas in the presence of a powdered methanol synthesis catalyst suspended in an inert liquid in a liquid phase reactor system. Unreacted CO-rich synthesis gas is recycled to the reactor, thus increasing methanol production and reducing specific power compared with once-through operation without recycle or compared with recycle of hydrogen-rich gas recovered from unreacted synthesis gas. The process preferably is integrated with a coal gasification electric power generation system in which a portion of the unreacted synthesis gas is used as power generation fuel and a portion of the methanol product is used as additional power generation fuel during periods of peak power demand"; and:
Eastman Chemical Coal Gasification Overview | Research & Development | News; concerning the Eastman presentation: "Eastman Gasification Overview; March 22, 2005; Eastman: Founded in 1920 as part of Eastman Kodak Wood-to-Methanol Plant; Gasification 101: Just the Basics: C + O2 + H2O = CO + H2; The partial oxidation of carbon to produce a 'synthesis gas'. What Is Gasification? Coal + Water + Oxygen = Carbon Monoxide + Hydrogen";
both of those companies have worked separately, as well as together, to develop Coal gasification and Coal-to-Methanol technologies.
The industrial utility of Methanol is rather immense, and, although it isn't, as far as we, here, know, being utilized at the Eastman-Air Products facility in Tennessee, keep in mind that one of the products that could be made from Methanol, as made from Coal or otherwise, is, as seen for just one example in our report of:
Mobil Oil Coal to Methanol to Gasoline | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 4,447,310 - Production of Distillates through Methanol to Gasoline; 1984; Inventors: Frank Derbyshire and Darrell Whitehurst, NJ; Assignee: Mobil Oil Corporation, NY; Abstract: A process for producing a wide slate of fuel products from coal is provided by integrating a methanol-to-gasoline conversion process with coal liquefaction and coal gasification. The coal liquefaction comprises contacting the coal with a solvent under supercritical conditions whereby a dense-gas phase solvent extracts from the coal a hydrogen-rich extract which can be upgraded to produce a distillate stream. The remaining coal is gasified under oxidation conditions to produce a synthesis gas which is converted to methanol. The methanol is converted to gasoline by contact with a zeolite catalyst. Solvent for coal extraction is process derived from the upgraded distillate fraction or gasoline fraction of the methanol-to-gasoline conversion";
all-American, non-OPEC Gasoline.
That said, herein is more confirmation of the fact, that, not only can Coal be efficiently converted into fuel alcohol Methanol, given the value of Methanol such an industrial process is, as Eastman Chemical and Air Products officially reported to the United States Department of Energy, also profitable.
As seen in excerpts from the initial link in this dispatch to:
"Project Data On Eastman Chemical Company's Chemicals-From-Coal Complex In Kingsport, TN
Prepared by: Eastman Chemical Company, Kingsport, Tennessee, and Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.
Allentown, Pennsylvania for the Air Products Liquid Phase Conversion Company, L.P.
Prepared for the United States Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory Under Cooperative Agreement No. DE-FC22-92PC90543
Abstract: The Liquid Phase Methanol (LPMEOH) Demonstration Project at Kingsport, Tennessee, is a $213.7 million cooperative agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Air Products Liquid Phase Conversion Company, L.P. (the Partnership) to produce methanol from coal-derived synthesis gas (syngas).
Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. (Air Products) and Eastman Chemical Company (Eastman) formed the Partnership to execute the Demonstration Project.
The LPMEOH Demonstration Unit was built at a site located at the Eastman chemicals-from-coal complex in Kingsport, TN. This Topical Report provides publicly available technical data on this complex and specific data on the operation of the Eastman catalyst guard bed and the wastewater treatment system.
The chemicals-from-coal complex began operation in 1983 using various purchased technologies such as Texaco gasification, Linde AG Rectisol gas clean-up, and Lurgi fixed-bed methanol production as well as Eastman developed technologies for chemicals production.
(Note that the "LPMEOH Demonstration Unit", which is the subject of this report, embodies a newer, perhaps improved, way of manufacturing Methanol from Coal-derived synthesis gas. Eastman had been successfully manufacturing a range of chemicals from Coal at the Kingsport complex, especially Methanol, since 1983.)
Initially, the plant was designed to produce approximately 500 million pounds per year of acetic anhydride and acetic acid to supply half of Eastman’s acetyl raw material needs. The facility was expanded in 1991 and additional process improvement work brought the capacity to the current level (in excess of 1 billion pounds per year).
Two gasifiers (one plus a spare) are campaigned to give gasifier system uptimes in excess of 98 percent with a maximum rate of approximately 1,350 tons per day of coal.
(The high "98%", reliability of this Coal conversion process is something that we have noted in previous reports concerning the Kingsport Coal-to-Methanol operation.)
This feed rate corresponds to 150 percent of the original design basis. The facility is operationally and economically a proven means of producing acetyl chemicals from coal.
(Note: "1,350 tons per day of coal" to make, through Methanol, "acetyl chemicals". How many "tons per day of coal" does anyone suppose would be required to make, through Methanol, via, for one example, the above cited process of Mobil Oil's "United States Patent 4,447,310 - Production of Distillates through Methanol to Gasoline", a significant portion of the now-imported OPEC gasoline the USA consumes every day?)
The LPMEOH Demonstration Unit ... project involves the operation of a 260 short tons per day (TPD), or 80,000 gallons per day, methanol unit utilizing coal-derived syngas from Eastman’s integrated coal gasification facility. The new equipment consists of syngas feed preparation and compression facilities, the liquid phase reactor and auxiliaries, product distillation facilities, and utilities.
This Topical Report provides publicly available technical data on the Eastman chemicals-from-coal complex in Kingsport, including the removal of mercury within the gasification section. The chemicals-from-coal complex continues to be a commercially viable operation for the production of acetyl chemicals from coal.
A testament to its reliability and cost efficiency is Eastman’s reliance on this facility to supply raw materials for one of the largest product streams within the company. Needless to say, Eastman’s success depends to a great degree on the success of the gasification complex.
The operation (particularly the gasification process) is maintenance intensive, but can be managed to provide the proper balance between cost and reliability. Eastman has, through years of work, greatly improved the reliability, production, and thus the success of this process.
Other specific data on the operation of the Eastman guard bed to protect methanol synthesis catalyst and the wastewater treatment system are provided. Species of arsenic and sulfur from the Rectisol syngas clean-up plant are present at parts-per-billion by volume (ppbv) concentrations, and a catalyst guard bed has been in service to further reduce these concentrations prior to the introduction of the primary syngas feed (Balanced Gas) to either the fixed-bed methanol plant or the LPMEOH (TM) Demonstration Unit.
The operation of the LPMEOH(TM) Reactor and associated systems has had no significant impact on the performance of the existing wastewater treatment system at the chemicals-from-coal complex, as there have been no permit excursions since the startup of the LPMEOH (TM) Demonstration Unit in April 1997.
Eastman’s experience and expertise in gasification and chemical synthesis technology have made the chemicals-from-coal complex a world-class operation.
The Liquid Phase Methanol (LPMEOH) Demonstration Project at Kingsport, Tennessee, is a $213.7 million cooperative agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Air Products Liquid Phase Conversion Company, L.P., a partnership between Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. (Air Products) and Eastman Chemical Company (Eastman), to produce methanol from coal-derived synthesis gas (syngas). Construction of the LPMEOH (TM) Demonstration Unit at Eastman’s chemicals-from-coal complex in Kingsport was completed in January 1997. Following commissioning and shakedown activities, the first production of methanol from the facility occurred on 02 April 1997. Nameplate capacity of 260 short tons per day (TPD), or 80,000 gallons per day, was achieved on 06 April 1997, and production rates have exceeded 300 TPD of methanol during test periods. Over the 69-month operating period, overall availability has exceeded 97.5%. Eastman has accepted all of the greater than 103.9 million gallons of methanol produced to date at the LPMEOH (TM) Demonstration Unit for use in downstream chemical processes.
Sponsored under the DOE's Clean Coal Technology Program, the LPMEOH(TM) Demonstration Project culminates an extensive cooperative development effort by Air Products and DOE in a program that began in 1981. By the late 1980s, the technology was proven in over 7,400 hours of test operation at a 10-TPD rate in the DOE-owned Alternative Fuels Development Unit (AFDU) in LaPorte, Texas. Developed to enhance electric power generation using integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technology, the LPMEOH (TM) Process exhibits several features essential for the economic coproduction of methanol and electricity in the IGCC scenario".
There's a good bit more to the report that might be of interest, but we'll close there to emphasize the USDOE's "LaPorte, Texas" "AFDU" facility, and "the economic coproduction of methanol and electricity in the IGCC (Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle) scenario".
We've made mention of the USDOE's AFDU project in Texas in prior reports, and might have more in the future to discuss about it. But, as far as "the economic coproduction of methanol and electricity" from Coal, such potentials are being explored and developed virtually around the world. And, Eastman Chemical themselves, as in our report of:
Eastman Chemical Coal to Liquid Fuel, Chemicals and Electricity | Research & Development | News; concerning, in part: "United States Patent Application 20060149423 - Method for Satisfying Variable Power Demand; 2006; Inventors: Scott Barnicki, et. al., TN; Correspondence (and presumed eventual Assignee of Rights): Eastman Chemical Company, TN; Abstract: A process for satisfying variable power demand and a method for maximizing the monetary value of a synthesis gas stream are disclosed. One or more synthesis gas streams are produced by gasification of carbonaceous materials and passed to a power producing zone to produce electrical power during a period of peak power demand or to a chemical producing zone to produce chemicals such as, for example, methanol, during a period of off-peak power demand";
have developed related liquid fuel and electricity co-production technology. But, as in our report of:
South Africa Co-produces Power and Hydrocarbons from Coal | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 8,247,462 - Co-production of Power and Hydrocarbons; 2012; Assignee: Sasol Technology Limited, South Africa; Abstract: A process for co-producing power and hydrocarbons includes in a wet gasification stage, gasifying coal to produce a combustion gas at elevated pressure comprising at least H2 and CO; enriching a first portion of the combustion gas with H2 to produce an H2-enriched gas; and generating power from a second portion of the combustion gas. In a dry gasification stage, coal is gasified to produce a synthesis gas precursor at elevated pressure comprising at least H2 and CO. At least a portion of the H2-enriched gas is mixed with the synthesis gas precursor to provide a synthesis gas for hydrocarbon synthesis, with hydrocarbons being synthesized from the synthesis gas";
some other folks, who have been converting Coal quite successfully into liquid hydrocarbon fuels on a large-scale industrial and profitable basis for more than half a century are likely ahead of us in the development of such seemingly-valuable technology.
In sum, though, those of us resident in United States Coal Country have had some rather immense potentials for the increased use of our vast Coal resource demonstrated for us herein - - potentials which could and should lead to increased industry and employment in Coal Country and increased independence for the entire USA from economic bondage to, and dangerous reliance on, foreign suppliers of liquid hydrocarbon fuels.
And, it’s way past time those potentials were, at long last, publicly acknowledged, and acted on.