United States Patent Application: 0090235587

We alert you that there is, in this dispatch, a rather satisfying "twist" to the Carbon Dioxide recycling technology disclosed herein; one that can and does relate directly to the indirect conversion of Coal, and of Carbon-recycling Biomass and wastes, into liquid hydrocarbon fuels.

We recently reported that a United States Patent had been awarded to a USDOE contractor, for the invention of a device that enables the conversion of a mixture of Water and Carbon Dioxide into a blend of Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen; that is, a synthesis gas, or "syngas", suitable for catalytic chemical condensation into hydrocarbons.

That report is accessible via:

West Virginia Coal Association | Utah 2011 CO2 + H2O = Hydrocarbon Syngas | Research & Development; and, contains information concerning: "United States Patent 8,075,746 - Electrochemical Cell for Production of Synthesis Gas Using Atmospheric Air and Water; 2011; Inventors: Joseph Hartvigsen, et. al., Utah; Assignee: Ceramatec, Inc., Salt Lake City; Abstract: A method is provided for synthesizing synthesis gas from carbon dioxide obtained from atmospheric air or other available carbon dioxide source and water using a sodium-conducting electrochemical cell. Synthesis gas is also produced by the coelectrolysis of carbon dioxide and steam in a solid oxide fuel cell or solid oxide electrolytic cell. The synthesis gas produced may then be further processed and eventually converted into a liquid fuel suitable for transportation or other applications";

wherein the design of a special fuel cell is disclosed, which, when supplied with inputs of CO2 and H2O, and an efficient amount of energy, produces a blend of Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen.

As we have also documented in a number of other reports, including, for one example:

West Virginia Coal Association | USDOE Converts CO2 into Methane via "Syntrolysis" | Research & Development; concerning: "Results of Recent High Temperature Co-Electrolysis Studies at the Idaho National Laboratory; 2007; Carl Stoots, James O’Brien, Idaho National Laboratory, and Joseph Hartvigsen, Ceramatec, Inc.; For the past several years, the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and subcontractor Ceramatec, Inc. have been studying the ... high temperature coelectrolysis of steam/CO2 mixtures to produce syngas: the raw material for synthetic fuels production.The Idaho National Laboratory has demonstrated the feasibility of using high temperature solid oxide cells to coelectrolyze H2O and CO2 simultaneously to produce syngas";

the concept and design of that fuel cell was established and further developed in the course of work carried out by Ceramatec with and for our United States Department of Energy, at our Idaho National Laboratory.

Herein, we see that our USDOE has developed their own, proprietary methods for utilizing that CO2-recycling fuel cell technology; methods that can utilize waste, or byproduct, thermal energy generated by exothermic chemical reactions in a Coal gasification process, which is producing it's own blend of Hydrogen and Carbon Monoxide synthesis gas.

Comment, with additional links and references, follows and is inserted within excerpts from the initial link in this dispatch to:

"United States Patent Application 20090235587 - Methods and Systems for Producing Syngas

Date: September, 2009

Inventors: Grant Hawkes, James Obrien, Carl Stoots, et. al., Idaho

Assignee: Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC, Idaho Falls

Government Interests: The United States Government has certain rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. DE-AC07-05-ID14517, between the US Department of Energy and Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC.

(As we have elsewhere documented, our government, in it's wisdom, has farmed out management of our critical National Energy Laboratories to consortiums of private and semi-private corporations, and other entities; who, in addition to being paid with our tax money to manage our laboratories, also are entitled to share in the rights to inventions made by scientists in the employ of our government, scientists who are working in laboratories owned by us and whose salaries are paid with the taxes collected from us.)

Abstract: Methods and systems are provided for producing syngas utilizing heat from thermochemical conversion of a carbonaceous fuel to support decomposition of at least one of water and carbon dioxide using one or more solid-oxide electrolysis cells. Simultaneous decomposition of carbon dioxide and water or steam by one or more solid-oxide electrolysis cells may be employed to produce hydrogen and carbon monoxide. A portion of oxygen produced from at least one of water and carbon dioxide using one or more solid-oxide electrolysis cells is fed as a controlled flow rate in a gasifier or combustor to oxidize the carbonaceous fuel to control the carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide ratio produced.

(The "thermochemical conversion of a carbonaceous fuel" which takes place in a "gasifier", and which can utilize the byproduct Oxygen of our subject process; and, which generates byproduct heat utilized in the process of our subject "for producing syngas" from the "decomposition of ... water and carbon dioxide", would be one like that described in our report of:

West Virginia Coal Association | Exxon Co-Gasifies Coal and Carbon-Recycling Biomass | Research & Development; concerning: "US Patent Application 20100083575 - Co-gasification Process for Hydrocarbon Solids and Biomass; 2010; ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company; Abstract: A process for the co-gasification of carbonaceous solids (coal) and biomass in which the ... heat required for pyrolyzing the biomass can conveniently be obtained from the heat exchanger used to cool the hot synthesis gas product emerging from the gasifier";

and, as you will see, the heat that can "be obtained from the heat exchanger used to cool the hot synthesis gas" is utilized in the process of our subject to help effect the disassociation of the CO2 and H2O.)

Claims: A method for producing syngas, comprising: thermochemically converting a carbonaceous fuel to produce heat and a mixed gas comprising water, hydrogen, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide; exposing a water stream to the heat from the thermochemical conversion of the carbonaceous fuel to produce steam; introducing the steam to at least one solid-oxide electrolysis cell; decomposing the steam in the at least one solid-oxide electrolysis cell to produce hydrogen and oxygen; and combining at least a portion of the carbon monoxide from the mixed gas with at least a portion of the hydrogen to produce syngas. 

The method ... wherein thermochemically converting a carbonaceous fuel to produce heat and a mixed gas comprises gasifying the carbonaceous fuel. 

The method ... further comprising recirculating a portion of the oxygen produced by decomposing steam in the at least one solid-oxide electrolysis cell to the gasification process.

(Note that the Oxygen can be utilized, as well, to support the gasification of the "carbonaceous fuel", thus minimizing use of air to support the partial combustion and thus minimizing the consequent formation of wasteful Nitrogen Oxides.)

The method ... further comprising: introducing carbon dioxide at a temperature between about 500C. and about 1200C to the at least one solid-oxide electrolysis cell; and decomposing the carbon dioxide to produce carbon monoxide and oxygen. 

The method ... wherein combining at least a portion of the carbon monoxide from the mixed gas with at least a portion of the hydrogen to form syngas having a ratio of hydrogen to carbon monoxide in the range of 1.7:1 to 2.12:1.

(Thus, the ratios of the components of the syngas can be adjusted, to make it suitable for catalytic chemical condensation into a range of hydrocarbons.)

A process for forming syngas, comprising: thermochemically converting a carbonaceous fuel to produce heat and a mixed gas comprising carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen and water; transferring the heat to a water stream to produce steam; electrolyzing the steam to produce hydrogen and oxygen; converting at least a portion of the carbon dioxide and hydrogen in the mixed gas to carbon monoxide and water; cooling the mixed gas; and removing water from the mixed gas to form syngas. 

The method ... wherein thermochemically converting a carbonaceous fuel to produce heat and a mixed gas comprising carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, water and hydrogen comprises at least one of combusting, gasifying or pyrolyzing the carbonaceous fuel.

(Again, it all starts with "gasifying ... carbonaceous fuel", and, in one aspect, this is really a technology for improving the conversion of Coal and Carbon-recycling Biomass into hydrocarbon synthesis gas by not only converting any co-produced and unwanted Carbon Dioxide into the desired Carbon Monoxide, but, also by generating additional Hydrogen for the product syngas blend and Oxygen to support the gasification.)

A system for producing syngas, comprising: an apparatus configured to thermochemically convert a carbonaceous fuel into heat and a mixed gas comprising carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen and water; a heat exchange device configured to transfer the heat produced during the conversion of the carbonaceous fuel to at least one of the carbon dioxide and water; and at least one solid-oxide electrolysis cell operably coupled to at least one power source and configured to electrolyze at least one of water and carbon dioxide to form oxygen and at least one of hydrogen and carbon monoxide.

The system ... wherein the at least one solid-oxide electrolysis cell is operably connected to at least one power source including a ...  hydro power source (or) wind power source.

Background and Field: Embodiments of the present invention relate, generally, to the production of syngas and, more particularly, to methods and systems for producing syngas from a carbonaceous fuel, such as biomass, coal, or other solid or nonconventional heavy hydrocarbons by utilizing the heat from thermochemical conversion of the carbonaceous fuel to support electrolysis of steam and/or co-electrolysis of steam and carbon dioxide in one or more solid-oxide electrolysis cells.

Embodiments of the present invention relate, generally, to the production of syngas and, more particularly, to methods and systems for producing syngas from a carbonaceous fuel, such as biomass, coal, or other solid or nonconventional heavy hydrocarbons by utilizing the heat from thermochemical conversion of the carbonaceous fuel to support electrolysis of steam and/or co-electrolysis of steam and carbon dioxide in one or more solid-oxide electrolysis cells. 

As energy consumption in the United States and throughout the world continues to increase, additional methods for environmentally clean energy conversion that can convert biomass, coal, or other solid or nonconventional heavy hydrocarbon energy resources to hydrogen, synthetic fuels and chemicals are desired. Concerns about the increased wastes and pollutants produced by many of the conventional energy conversion processes, and the low efficiencies of such processes, have led to further research for cleaner, more efficient processes. 

In response to the increasing energy demands and the desire to reduce or eliminate pollutants, new cleaner, energy conversion processes that can utilize biomass, coal, or other solid or nonconventional heavy hydrocarbons are being sought. A known process for conversion of these energy resources to cleaner fuels includes synthetic fuels, often referred to as "synfuels," which are made from synthesis gas, often referred to as "syngas." Syngas includes a mixture of varying amounts of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2) that may be converted to form hydrogen, synfuels, methanol or chemicals. Production of synfuels from syngas may be performed using a variety of processes including a Fischer-Tropsch process to convert the carbon monoxide and hydrogen into liquid hydrocarbons ... .

The synfuels produced using the Fischer-Tropsch process may include high purity, low sulfur, fuels, often referred to as "Fischer-Tropsch liquids," which have fewer pollutants than naturally occurring fuels or fuels processed from naturally occurring oil deposits.

(Note, that, as we have previously documented, liquid hydrocarbon fuels made by indirect gasification processes from Coal are cleaner-burning than those made conventionally from natural petroleum.)

Another approach is to convert syngas into methanol, may be converted to gasoline, olefins, or aromatics. Syngas may be converted to methanol using a copper or zinc catalyst such as a modified ZSM-5 catalyst.

(See: ExxonMobil "Clean Gasoline from Coal" | Research & Development; "Methanol to Gasoline (MTG): Production of Clean Gasoline from Coal; So Advanced, Yet So Simple".)

High temperature solid-oxide fuel cells may be used to produce electricity and water from hydrogen and oxygen (O2). When run in reverse, the solid-oxide fuel cells are called solid-oxide electrolysis cells and are able to electrolytically reduce and split water into hydrogen and oxygen and carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide and oxygen. The water may be converted into hydrogen, which may be combined with carbon monoxide to form syngas. In a solid-oxide electrolysis cell, the anode is the reducing gas electrode and the cathode is the oxidant-side electrode. When operated in reverse, as a solid-oxide electrolysis cell, the anode is the oxidant-side electrode and the cathode is the reducing electrode. Furthermore the solid-oxide electrolysis cell may be used to co-electrolyze a mixture of water and carbon dioxide to produce syngas."

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And, that's about it.

Seen in one aspect, the invention is a way to efficiently "clean up" hydrocarbon synthesis gas made from Coal and Carbon-recycling Biomass, by converting any co-generated Carbon Dioxide, along with additional H2O, utilizing waste heat from the gasification process itself, into more Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen, which can then be blended back into the original syngas in varying amounts.

Seen another way, the invention also describes a process in which Carbon Dioxide all by itself, collected from whatever source, in combination with Water, can, in a process driven by renewable energy, i.e., the USDOE's specified "hydro power source (or) wind power source", be converted into hydrocarbon synthesis gas, suitable, again as our US Department of Energy specifies, for conversion in a "variety of processes including a Fischer-Tropsch process ... into liquid hydrocarbons".

You know, this - - in combination with the now many thousands of similar processes and technologies we've documented for you, concerning the ways and means by which our abundant Coal and our renewable, sustainable Carbon-recycling wastes, and even our Carbon Dioxide itself, can be efficiently converted into the liquid hydrocarbons our nation seems so desperately to need - - seems to us what would be seen as glad tidings for a nation extorted by foreign oil suppliers and a Coal industry besieged by numerous opponents, all of whose motives we now call into question.

But, now quite recently, we perceive even an increasing disinterest in such potentials, and in learning more about such potentials, for national energy independence and Coal Country prosperity.


West Virginia Coal Association - PO Box 3923 - Charleston, WV 25339 | 304-342-4153 | website developed by brickswithoutstraw