United States Patent: 8236072

The fact that Coal can be cleanly and efficiently converted into any and all types of both liquid and gaseous hydrocarbon fuels should, by now, be clear to anyone who has even for a brief time followed our reports.

The fact of the matter is recognized and openly acknowledged in other nations of the world, like China and South Africa, where the issues surrounding energy utilization and national economics are dealt with, it seems, with a bit more honesty and pragmatism, and, we dare say, idealism.

Without, yet, documenting the sources, we tell you here, that, people and forces - - that are better informed than you have sadly been by your Coal Country organs of public communication - - are firmly allied behind the scenes against Coal, and especially against the expanded use of Coal in the production of hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals.

That fact has been recently defined and reported to the United States Department of Energy, by a contracted independent researcher, as a part of the USDOE's examination of proposed sites for a conjectured factory in Appalachia that would convert Coal into liquid hydrocarbon fuels.

The report in which that is detailed is compendious, and, we don't know if we will be able to bring it to you in the context of our reports here. Links to it have been sent to the West Virginia Coal Association. 98888888656565656565658

And, even more suspicion-arousing, a major portion of that report is now missing from the USDOE's electronic library.

That is in addition, of course to - - and we see it as simple extension of - - the resolute opposition met with by proposals for new Coal-fired electric power plants.

The flavor of the general, overall issue is encapsulated and typified by just one incident that did come to light, but, as far as we know, was never reported on in our Coal Country media: 

Exclusive: How the Sierra Club Took Millions From the Natural Gas Industry—and Why It Stopped | TIME.com; "TIME has learned that between 2007 and 2010 the Sierra Club accepted over $25 million in donations from the gas industry, mostly from Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy - one of the biggest gas drilling companies in the U.S. and a firm heavily involved in fracking - to help fund the Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. The news of the gas industry donation - which had been kept anonymous until now, as many of Club’s gifts from individuals and corporations are - is particularly worrisome for the Sierra Club because its former executive director Carl Pope had been vocal in supporting natural gas as an alternative to coal. Pope - a lifelong Sierra Club staffer who served as executive director and then chairman before stepping down late last year - accompanied Chesapeake’s McClendon in 2009 on trips promoting the benefits of natural gas over coal, even as millions of dollars of McClendon’s money was flowing to Sierra Club anonymously".

Such tactics are, as it happens, the only way shale or other natural gas can actually compete with Coal, since, as reported by the United States Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration, via:

http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/index.cfm;

based on the commodity prices, until 2008, the cost of a Btu produced by combusting natural gas was almost four times as expensive as the same amount of electricity-generating thermal energy produced by combusting Coal. Natural gas prices until then ran at about $5.75 per million Btu while Coal averaged out at $1.46 per million Btu. The price of gas dropped in 2009, but still, on an energy-generated basis, was twice the cost of Coal - at the lowest historical per-Btu price point for natural gas. Further, the USDOE/EIA expects that the cost of gas will increase by at least 60 percent over the next decade and a half, while the cost of Coal will remain basically stable.

However, if proposed enterprises like that reported in:

Marshall County plans for natural gas combined cycle power plant - Business, Government Legal News from throughout WV; "Members of the Marshall County (WV) Commission approved a resolution April 22 regarding a tax agreement with Moundsville Power LLC to advance plans for a $615 million natural gas combined cycle power plant. Moundsville Power LLC is a single purpose development company formed by a group of Western New York businessmen with experience in construction, development, finance and energy, according to information from Moundsville Power. The group is planning to construct a natural gas combined cycle power plant with a nameplate capacity of 549 megawatts on a 37.5 acre parcel of property south of Moundsville currently owned by Honeywell International";

even in spite of the awe-inspiring financial help and guarantees being asked of the local government by the developer, ever do get reduced to reality, and, the consumers of the electricity generated by such facilities, because of the cost, are soon in the future reduced to conservation measures like removing the light bulbs from their refrigerators and saving their bacon grease so that they can make candles or tallow lamps, then, as explained for example in our reports of:

USDOE Reports Arizona Coal Hydrogasification | Research & Development | News; concerning: "Development of a Hydrogasification Process for Co-Production of Substitute Natural Gas (SNG) and Electric Power from Western Coals; Raymond Hobbs, Principal Investigator; Arizona Public Service; Partners: Arizona Public Service Electric Transportation Energy Corporation (ETEC); National Energy Technology Laboratory, Morgantown, WV, Pittsburgh, PA"; and: 

Arizona Coal Gasification | Research & Development | News; concerning the news release:"'Stimulus Funds Go To Cholla'; July 1, 2009; Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) Cholla Power Plant is set to receive approximately $70.6 million in federal stimulus funds for a coal gasification project. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Cholla plant was selected in May to receive $70.6 million from a $2.4 billion program to “expand and accelerate the commercial deployment of carbon capture and storage technology. The funds come from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (and) will permit the existing algae-based carbon mitigation project to expand testing with a coal-based gasification system, ... The overall process will minimize production of carbon dioxide in the gasification process to produce a substitute natural gas from coal";

the technology is being developed which would enable the continued economical supply of a substitute natural gas, SNG, Methane made from Coal, while the low-end electrical power generated by the gas-fired plant could be supplemented with electricity generated by the Coal-to-SNG process itself.

And, there is even more to it, as we explain in excerpts from the initial link in this dispatch, which leads to exposition of technology arising from the USDOE-funded APS Coal-to-SNG project:

"United States Patent 8,236,072 - System and Method for Producing Substitute Natural Gas from Coal

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/8236072.html

(Note: There are additional technologies related to and integrated with our subject, "United States Patent 8,236,072", and other, even international, patents have been applied for them by the Arizona Public Service Company.  Should you follow up on the links we're providing herein, it could get confusing with all of the cross-references. We'll attempt to sort it all out in separate reports to follow.)

Date: August 7, 2012 

Inventor: Raymond Hobbs, AZ

Assignee: Arizona Public Service Company, Phoenix

Abstract: The present invention provides a system and method for producing substitute natural gas and electricity, while mitigating production of any greenhouse gasses. The system includes a hydrogasification reactor, to form a gas stream including natural gas and a char stream, and an oxygen burner to combust the char material to form carbon oxides. The system also includes an algae farm to convert the carbon oxides to hydrocarbon material and oxygen.  

(We have documented a number of times that Coal can be gasified in such a way that substitute natural gas Methane - along with some co-product Carbon Oxides and some remnant Hydrogen, which together would comprise a "syngas" - can be produced directly from Coal gasification processes. See, for example:

Texaco Coal to Methane & Syngas | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 3,951,617 - Production of Clean Fuel Gas; 1976; Assignee: Texaco, Inc., NY; Abstract: Production of clean fuel gas having a high heating value by means of two interconnected free-flow noncatalytic partial oxidation gas generators. All of the particulate carbon produced in the effluent gas stream from both generators is recovered and burned as a portion of the feedstock in gas generator two to maximize the methane yield in gas generator one. Claims: A process for the production of fuel gas comprising ... reacting by partial oxidation a liquid hydrocarbon fuel with a free-oxygen containing gas ... wherein supplemental steam is introduced into the reaction zone ... (and) ... wherein the liquid hydrocarbon fuel ... is selected from the group consisting of ... coal tar, coal oil (etc., and) wherein the hydrocarbonaceous fuel ... is ... pumpable slurries of solid hydrocarbonaceous fuels e.g. coal,  ... in a liquid hydrocarbon fuel or water, and mixtures thereof. ... By the subject invention a clean fuel gas having a high heating value may be produced (in a way) to maximize methane yield"; and:

More Exxon 1978 Coal to Methane | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 4,094,650 - Integrated Catalytic Gasification Process; 1978; Assignee: Exxon Research and Engineering Company, NJ; Abstract: Methane and carbon dioxide are produced by reacting steam with a carbonaceous feed material at a reaction temperature between about 1000 F and about 1500 F and a reaction pressure in excess of about 100 psi in the presence of a carbon-alkali metal catalyst and equilibrium quantities of added hydrogen and carbon monoxide. The raw product gas withdrawn from the reaction zone is treated for removal of the carbon dioxide, product methane is recovered from the treated gas".)

Government Interests: This invention was made with Government support under DOE Contract No. DE-FC26-06NT42759 awarded by the Department of Energy. The Government has certain rights in this invention.

Claims:  A system for producing substitute natural gas and electricity, the system comprising: a hydrogasification reactor for reacting hydrogen with coal; a gas product stream comprising methane in fluid communication with the hydrogasification reactor; an ash stream in communication with the hydrogasification reactor; an electrolysis reactor; a hydrogen source coupled to the hydrogasification reactor and the electrolysis reactor; a coal source coupled to the hydrogasification reactor; an oxygen burner, to react the ash stream with oxygen, coupled to an outlet of the hydrogasification reactor; an oxygen source coupled to the oxygen burner and the hydrogasification reactor; and an algae farm coupled to an output of the oxygen burner.

(Note, that, in the "hydrogasification" process, not all of the Hydrogen, produced from the H2O, the "hydro", will be consumed. If the un-reacted carbon oxides are extracted from the product gas and routed to an "algae farm", more on that presently, then the un-reacted Hydrogen can be recycled to the gasification reactor, where, as has long been known, and as seen for one example in:

General Electric Hydrogenates Coal | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 3,556,749 - Apparatus and Method for the Hydrogenation of Coal; 1971; Assignee: General Electric Company, NY; Abstract: The conversion of coal into methane by reaction thereof with hydrogen gas"'

it will react with the hot Coal to produce more "Substitute Natural Gas" Methane.)

The system for producing substitute natural gas and electricity ... wherein the algae farm includes material to convert carbon oxides from the oxygen burner to hydrocarbon material and oxygen. 

(Concerning the above, see, for one example:

USDOE Algae Recycle More CO2 and Produce Ethanol | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 7,973,214 - Designer Organisms for Photosynthetic Production of Ethanol from CO2 and Water;  July 5, 2011; Inventor: James Weifu Lee, TN; Assignee: UT-Battelle, LLC, Oak Ridge (USDOE Oak Ridge National Laboratory".)

The system for producing substitute natural gas and electricity ...  wherein the hydrocarbon material provides fuel to the oxygen burner (and) wherein the electrolysis reactor provides hydrogen to the hydrogen source and oxygen to the oxygen source. 

(The above specification that an "electrolysis reactor", perhaps an efficient one like that seen in:

Germany Makes Economical Hydrogen from H2O | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent Application 20090026089 - System and Method for Splitting Water; 2009; Inventors: Walter Kothe, et. al., Germany; Assignee: Hermsdorfer Institut, Germany; Abstract: The present invention relates to a system and a method for cleaving water by means of hyperpolarisation, the system comprising a first electrode and at least one additional electrode; at least one porous ferroelectric layer arranged between the first and the additional electrode; as well as an AC voltage or pulsed DC voltage source. With the method according to the present invention it is possible to cleave the water economically into hydrogen and oxygen and obtain gases for technical purposes. A method (and) a system for cleaving water comprising: a first electrode and at least one additional electrode; at least one porous ferroelectric layer arranged between the first and the additional electrode; and an AC voltage source. Applying an AC voltage to the electrodes of the system, wherein water is cleaved in the system essentially into hydrogen gas and oxygen gas";

be used to extract the needed Hydrogen from the Water, H2O, molecule, with co-production of useful Oxygen, seems to us now almost archaic. It is at least too narrow. As we have documented and as we will continue to document, the technologies for extracting any needed H2 from H2O using a variety of energies, solar light and thermal, for example, are proliferating and becoming much more efficient. Obtaining any needed extra Hydrogen should not be seen as a barrier.)

The system for producing substitute natural gas and electricity ... wherein oxygen is reacted with hydrogen in the hydrogasification reactor to produce an operating temperature between about 1600 and 1750 F (and) further comprising a steam boiler coupled to the oxygen burner (and) further comprising a steam turbine coupled to the steam boiler. 

The system for producing substitute natural gas and electricity ... further comprising an ash removal unit, coupled to the hydrogasification reactor, to remove residual ash from the gas stream (and) further comprising a sulfur removal unit, coupled to the ash removal unit, to remove sulfur from the gas stream. 

(There are a number of ways to remove "sulfur" from the product "gas stream" of a Coal gasification process. See, for one example:

Georgia Tech By-Product Sulfur from Coal Syngas | Research & Development | News; concerning:

"'Electrochemical Polishing of Hydrogen Sulfide from Coal Synthesis Gas'; Advanced coal-fired power systems `95 review meeting, Morgantown, WV; June,1995; OSTI ID: 125377; Report Number: DOE/PC/94207--96/C0547; USDOE Contract: FG22-94PC94207; Authors: E.F. Gleason and J. Winnick; Research Organization: Georgia Tech Research Institute, Atlanta; Abstract: An advanced process has been developed for the separation of H2S from coal gasification product streams through an electrochemical membrane. H2S is removed from the syngas by reduction to the sulfide ion and Hydrogen at the cathode. The sulfide ion migrates to the anode through a molten salt electrolyte suspended in an inert ceramic matrix. Once at the anode it is oxidized to elemental sulfur and swept away for condensation in an inert gas stream";

wherein Sulfur can be recovered from just such a stream of Coal gasification product, "syngas", and perhaps done so in a way that the Sulfur could be recovered as a cost-offsetting byproduct.)

The system for producing substitute natural gas and electricity ... further comprising a methanization reactor, coupled to the sulfur removal unit, to convert residual gases in the gas stream to methane. 

The system for producing substitute natural gas and electricity ... further comprising a first char hopper coupled to an outlet of the hydrogasification reactor (and) further comprising a second char hopper coupled to the first char hopper and the oxygen burner (and) further comprising a cleanup unit, coupled to the methanization reactor, to remove excess hydrogen from the gas stream.

A system for producing substitute natural gas arid electricity, the system comprising: a hydrogasification reactor for reacting hydrogen with coal; a gas product stream comprising methane in fluid communication with the hydrogasification reactor; an ash stream in communication with the hydrogasification reactor; an electrolysis reactor; a hydrogen source coupled to the hydrogasification reactor and the electrolysis reactor; a coal source coupled to the hydrogasification reactor; an oxygen burner, to react the ash stream with oxygen, coupled to an outlet of the hydrogasification reactor; an oxygen source coupled to the oxygen burner and the hydrogasification reactor; an algae farm coupled to an output of the oxygen burner; a steam boiler coupled to the oxygen burner; a steam turbine coupled to the steam boiler; an ash removal unit, coupled to the hydrogasification reactor, to remove residual ash from the gas stream; a sulfur removal unit coupled to the ash removal unit, to remove sulfur from the gas stream; and a methanization reactor, coupled to the sulfur removal unit, to convert residual gases in the gas stream to methane. 

(In a addition to generating Methane directly from the hydro-gasification of Coal, they are also calling for a "methanization reactor" wherein un-reacted Hydrogen can be reacted with byproduct Carbon oxides in the Coal gasification product stream, as described for just one example in our report of: 

Germany Coal to Substitute Natural Gas | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 4,061,475 - Process for Producing a Gas which can be Substituted for Natural Gas; 1977; Assignee: Metallgesellschaft AG, Frankfurt am Main (Germany); Abstract: A high methane gas which can be substituted for natural gas is produced from a primary gas made by the gasification of coal ... . A process for producing a high-methane gas which can be substituted for natural gas, from a primary gas containing 35-44% by volume hydrogen, 15-20% by volume carbon monoxide and 28-32% by volume carbon dioxide produced by the gasification of coal with water vapor and oxygen ... (and): purifying said primary gas by removing catalyst poisons and removing carbon dioxide to a residual content below 2% by volume; adjusting the water vapor to carbon monoxide volume ratio (as specified, and): passing said gas ... through one reaction zone containing only a methanation catalyst containing 20-60% by weight of nickel on a support which is resistant to water vapor, the temperature of the gas (and): supplying the gas leaving the reaction zone to a final methanation stage to produce a high-methane gas; and: removing residual carbon dioxide from said high-methane gas to produce said gas to be substituted for natural gas".

In point of fact, Carbon Dioxide will readily react with Hydrogen when both are exposed to a "nickel" catalyst to form Methane. That is the basis of the 1912 Nobel Prize-winning Sabatier process. The only point in removing Carbon Dioxide is to conserve Hydrogen, or, to direct, as herein, the residual Carbon Dioxide to other, productive, purposes.)

The system for producing substitute natural gas and electricity ... further comprising a first char hopper coupled to an outlet of the hydrogasification reactor (and) further comprising a second char hopper coupled to the first char hopper and the oxygen burner (and) further comprising a cleanup unit, coupled to the methanization reactor, to remove excess hydrogen from the gas stream.

Background and Field: The present invention generally relates to systems and methods for producing substitute natural gas (SNG) from coal. More particularly, the invention relates to systems and methods for producing SNG using hydro gasification of coal. 

Because of their relatively high energy density and their current availability, fossil fuels, such as coal, are currently used to supply most of the world's energy requirements. Unfortunately, use of such fuels is thought to generate a substantial portion of the greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, as global demand for energy and awareness of possible environmental damage caused by the use of fossil-fuel energy sources increase, it becomes increasingly desirable to use such energy sources more efficiently, while mitigating any negative environmental effects. 

One technique that has been developed for more efficiently using coal and mitigating deleterious environmental effects includes gasification of coal to produce substitute natural gas (SNG).

Producing SNG from coal is desirable because the produced SNG can be used in existing natural gas infrastructure (e.g. pipelines, compressor stations, and distribution networks), in commercial applications where natural gas is a feedstock, in domestic applications where natural gas is used for heating and cooking, and in electric utility applications where natural gas is used as a fuel to produce electricity.

Coal reserves are substantially greater and more accessible than natural gas supply, and SNG can provide an additional supply of natural gas as the supply of existing natural gas sources diminish.

Producing SNG from coal also has the added advantages of providing stability to the supply and thus price of natural gas ... .

(The above is important. Although no one who was once caught up in the hype wants to admit it, as indicated for only one example in:

US Shale Gas Boom Estimates Exaggerated, Alternative Energy Advocate Says, And Natural Gas Reserves Declining; “The facts are starting to show that declines for the older shale plays such as the Barnett, Haynesville, Fayetteville and Woodford are very serious,” Powers said, referring to shale gas reserves in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. One of the reasons why gas fields are declining in production is what Powers, author of "Cold, Hungry and in the Dark: Exploding the Natural Gas Supply Myth," calls inflated estimates of natural gas reserves. “Many of the people promoting the 100-year myth were doing it for either financial or political reasons,” Powers said, in reference to the amount of natural gas experts say will last. He added that companies exaggerated the size of the fields so they could sell acreage to latecomers";

we don't have nearly as much gas, especially shale gas, available as it's proponents would have us believe. The price of gas, as in our earlier-cited USDOE/EIA projections, is only going to increase as the shale fields play rapidly out.)

Techniques to gasify coal produce a gas called "syngas," which is a low heating value gas composed of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, and which generally cannot be used as a substitute in natural gas applications, are also generally known. Syngas, also known as municipal gas, has been produced for 100 years in North America. The syngas production releases greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere, and syngas has a much lower heating value (BTU/scf) compared to SNG, which is composed primarily of methane (CH4). Although syngas can be converted into methane, the use of a catalyst is required, and hence a relatively expensive, two step process with low efficiency is required for such conversion. 

Although some techniques for gasifying coal and the production of methane or SNG from coal are known, such techniques are relatively poor at capturing potential greenhouse gasses and may be relatively expensive. Accordingly, improved apparatus and techniques for producing SNG and electricity from coal are desired. 

Summary: The present invention provides an improved system and method for producing substitute natural gas (SNG) and power from fossil fuels. While the ways in which the present invention addresses the various drawbacks of the prior art are discussed in greater detail below, in general, the invention provides a system including a hydrogasification reactor and an oxygen burner to produce SNG and electricity. 

In accordance with various embodiments of the invention, a system for producing SNG and electricity includes a hydrogasification reactor, a hydrogen supply, an oxygen burner, and an oxygen supply. In operation, hydrogen reacts with coal within the hydrogasification reactor to produce a gas stream, including methane, and an ash stream, including solid carbon products. The gas stream is further processed to produce SNG and the solid stream is sent to the oxygen burner to combust the ash stream material to produce heat and carbon oxide(s) (e.g., carbon dioxide). The produced heat can be used to power a stream turbine to produce electricity.

(The "ash stream", as with the Coal ash originating in some types of Coal-fired power plants, will have a relatively high content of residual Carbons, and, as seen separately, for one example, in:

US EPA Approves Coal Fly Ash Carbon Burn Out | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Environmental Protection Agency; Washington, DC 20460; Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response  2011; ... As described, CBO units are typically located at or adjacent to the coal-fired utility. High-carbon fly ash, as described by Dominion Power, generated at the utility is pneumatically conveyed from the power plant's existing silos to the CBO silo. The CBO unit incorporates a fluidized bed that further recovers energy from the residual carbon from high-carbon fly ash. Burning the high-carbon fly ash in CBO units generates sufficient heat to sustain combustion in the CBO unit without use of supplemental fuel other than as start up of the fluidized bed combustor unit. In addition, heat is recovered and transported back to the fossil fuel plant in the form of heated condensate or steam. Emissions from the CBO units are also sent back to the utility, and combined with the utility boiler emissions, which are routed through the boiler's air pollution control devices";

that high-carbon ash can be further combusted in "fluidized bed" burners, the above-specified "oxygen burner to combust the ash stream material", for the recovery of heat energy which can be used to generate supplemental electricity.)

In accordance with further embodiments of the present invention, a system includes a hydrogasification reactor, an oxygen burner to combust material from the hydrogasification reactor (or a partial oxidation and water shift reactor to convert the ash to carbon dioxide and water), and an algae farm to convert carbon oxide(s) from the oxygen burner to oxygen and solid carbon materials. In accordance with various aspects of this embodiment, the algae used to convert carbon oxides to organic carbon is combusted in the oxygen burner to finish the carbon recycle-fuel recycle. In accordance with further aspects, the system further includes a steam boiler and a steam turbine, and heat produced from the combusted organic carbon provides energy to the boiler which, in turn, produces steam for a steam turbine to produce electricity.

(Concerning the above-specified use of "algae ... to convert carbon dioxide", see, as well, for one out of now many examples, our reports of:

Chevron Algae Recycle Coal Conversion CO2 into Bio-Diesel | Research & Development | News; concerning: "US Patent 8,076,121 - Process for Conversion of Hydrocarbonaceous Assets and Photobiofuels Production; 2011; Assignee: Chevron USA Inc., CA; Abstract: The present invention is generally directed to processes that   integrate CO2-producing conversions of hydrocarbonaceous assets with biofuels processes that utilize CO2 in photosynthesis.  Claims: An integrated process combining hydrocarbonaceous conversion   with a photobiofuels process that utilizes CO2 produced from said   hydrocarbonaceous conversion to support photosynthesis, the process comprising the steps of: a) converting at least one hydrocarbonaceous asset (into) a first ... CO2-containing gas, wherein said at least one hydrocarbonaceous asset is selected from the group consisting of ... coal, ... waste plastics, waste   tires, municipal waste, and combinations thereof; b) absorbing at least a portion of the CO2 from the first   super-atmospheric pressure CO2-containing gas into an absorption liquid, the   absorbing being done at a first temperature; c) desorbing at least a portion of the absorbed CO2 ... to form a   second  CO2-containing gas, wherein the second temperature is higher than   the first temperature, and the concentration of CO2 in the second ... gas is   higher than the concentration of CO2 in the first ... CO2-containing gas; d) providing at least a portion of the CO2 in the second   super-atmospheric pressure CO2-containing gas to support algal and/or   diatomaceous photosynthesis in a photobiofuels process";

wherein Algae are specified to be used to consume the CO2 byproduct of gasification and combustion processes in some ways like the one disclosed herein by the Arizona Public Service Company, and to produce "biofuels"; and,

Celanese Co-Gasifies Coal and CO2-Recycling Algae | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent Application 20130144087 - Co-Gasification of Aquatic Biomass and Coal; 2013; Assignee: Celanese International Corporation, Irving, Texas";

wherein it's explained that the residual or excess Algae biomass, after the extraction of the "photobiofuels", can be added to the Coal being fed into the gasification reactor to further increase the production, as in the title of our subject, of "Substitute Natural Gas from Coal".)

In accordance with yet further exemplary embodiments, the system includes an electrolysis reactor to produce hydrogen and oxygen. In accordance with various aspects of the embodiment, at least a portion of the produced hydrogen and/or oxygen is supplied to the hydrogasification reactor to facilitate methanization of coal. 

In accordance with yet further exemplary embodiments of the invention, a method of producing SNG includes providing coal, reacting the coal with hydrogen to form a gas phase including methane and a solid phase, reacting the solid phase with oxygen to produce heat, using the heat to produce steam, using the steam to power a turbine, and producing electricity from the powered turbine. In accordance with various aspect of this embodiment, the method further includes the step of providing algae to convert carbon oxides produced by the system (e.g., the hydrogasification reactor and/or the oxygen burner) to oxygen and feeding dry algae to the oxygen burner. In accordance with yet a further aspect, the method includes the step of electrolyzing water to form hydrogen and oxygen and using at least a portion of the produced hydrogen and oxygen to react with the coal in a hydrogasification reactor and at least a portion of the produced oxygen react with a solid phase in oxygen burner.

The present invention provides a system and method for producing substitute natural gas (SNG) and electricity from fossil fuels, while mitigating any greenhouse gas emissions. Although the present invention may be used to generate SNG and electricity from a variety of fossil fuels, the invention is conveniently described ... in connection with producing SNG and electricity from coal and biofuels. Various forms of coal may be used in accordance with exemplary embodiments of the invention.

By way of example, coal ... from the Navajo Coal Mine, located in New Mexico, USA, can be used to from SNG and electricity in accordance with the invention."

----------------------------- 

As seen for yet another example, in our report of: 

More Consol 1953 Coal to CO2-Free Methane and Hydrogen | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 2,654,662 - Gasification of Carbonaceous Solid Fuels; 1953; Inventor: Everett Gorin, PA; Assignee: Consolidation Coal Company, Pittsburgh; Abstract: This invention relates to the gasification of carbonaceous solid fuels, and particularly to the production of hydrogen or high B.t.u. gas from such fuels.In application Serial No. 99,562, filed June 16, 1949, a process for the gasification of carbonaceous solid fuels in the presence of barium oxide is described. In accordance with that process, barium oxide is mixed with carbonaceous solid fuels in certain critical proportions and under certain critical conditions of temperature and pressure and then subjected to gasification with steam. A gaseous product is obtained which contains methane and hydrogen in varying relative proportions depending upon the particular temperature and pressure conditions";

we've known how to gasify Coal and to produce, through that gasification, both substitute natural gas Methane and Hydrogen for quite a long time. And, as seen for another few examples in:

September, 2012, Coal and CO2 to Liquid Fuel and Electric Power | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 8,268,896 - Co-production of Fuels, Chemicals and Electric Power; 2012;
Assignee: Gas Technology Institute, Des Plaines, IL; Abstract: A method and system for co-production of electric power, fuel, and chemicals in which a synthesis gas at a first pressure is expanded using a stand-alone mechanical expander or a partial oxidation gas turbine, simultaneously producing electric power and an expanded synthesis gas at a second pressure after which the expanded synthesis gas is converted to a fuel and/or a chemical"; and:

Coal to Chemicals, Fuels & Electrical Power | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent Application 20080081844 - Methods for Producing Synthesis Gas; 2008; (Presumed eventual Assignee of Rights): Kellogg Brown & Root, LLC; Houston; Abstract: A process for producing electrical power, chemicals, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen is provided. One or more feedstocks and one or more oxidants can be combined in a fluidized reaction zone heated to a temperature from about 1050 F to about 1900 F to provide a synthesis gas comprising carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrogen. In one or more embodiments, at least a portion of the synthesis gas can be used as a fuel source for one or more turbines to drive one or more electrical generators. In one or more embodiments, at least a portion of the synthesis gas can be introduced to one or more gas converters to provide methanol, alkyl formates, dimethyl ether, ammonia, Fischer-Tropsch products, derivatives thereof or combinations thereof";

the technologies for converting Coal into various hydrocarbons, either by direct hydrogasification to form Methane, or to form a hydrocarbon synthesis gas blend of Hydrogen and Carbon Monoxide which can be catalytically, chemically condensed into a full range of hydrocarbons, or both, along with by-product/co-product electrical power,. are proliferating and diversifying; and, improving.

They are improving especially by - - as disclosed by our subject herein, "United States Patent 8,236,072 - System and Method for Producing Substitute Natural Gas from Coal" - - including the ways and means by which valuable co-products, like Electricity and Biofuels, can be made, along with hydrocarbon fuels like "Substitute Natural Gas", in processes founded on, and in the first place made possible by, the United States of America's one far and away most abundant and most reliable fossil resource: Coal.


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