Carbon Dioxide, as we might harvest from the exhaust gases produced during our economically essential use of Coal in the generation of abundant and affordable electric power, is a valuable energy resource.
Carbon Dioxide can, in combination with Water, H2O, be used and consumed as the basic raw materials in the productive synthesis of hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals.
We have by now made numerous reports on the development, by our United States Department of Energy, of technology that is sometimes referred to as "syntrolysis", wherein, in what is often described as a "solid oxide fuel cell" run in reverse, Carbon Dioxide, CO2, and Water, H2O, are "co-electrolyzed" and broken down into their simpler constituents, i.e.: Carbon Monoxide, Hydrogen and Oxygen.
The solid oxide fuel cell, often just abbreviated "SOFC", thus becomes a solid oxide electrolyzer.
The Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen can then be catalytically, chemically combined in long-known processes, such as the now nearly-ancient Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, and made to form a full range of any and all gaseous and liquid hydrocarbons, all the way from synthetic natural gas Methane, through fuel Alcohols, and up to and including what might be thought of as a synthetic petroleum.
A discussion of the USDOE's syntrolysis technology is presented in our report of:
USDOE Idaho Lab Recycles More CO2 | Research & Development | News; concerning: "Model of High Temperature H2O/CO2 Co-electrolysis; 2007; By: G. Hawkes, J. O'Brien, C. Stoots, Stephen Herring, Joe Hartvigsen; OSTI ID: 912896; Report Number: INL/CON-07-12092; DOE Contract: DE-AC07-99ID-13727; Research Organization: Idaho National Laboratory (INL); Sponsoring Organization: USDOE; Abstract: A three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model has been created to model high temperature co-electrolysis of steam and carbon dioxide in a planar solid oxide electrolyzer (SOE) using solid oxide fuel cell technology. A research program is under way at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) to simultaneously address the research and scale-up issues associated with the implementation of planar solid-oxide electrolysis cell technology for syngas production from CO2 and steam. ... A strong interest exists in the large-scale production of syngas from CO2 and steam to be reformed into a usable transportation fuel. With the price of oil currently around $60 / barrel, synthetically-derived hydrocarbon fuels (synfuels) have become economical. Synfuels are typically produced from syngas – hydrogen (H2) and carbon monoxide (CO) -- using the Fischer-Tropsch process, discovered by Germany before World War II. Syngas (can) be produced via separate electrolysis of steam and CO2. There are, however, significant advantages to electrolyzing steam and CO2 simultaneously. Focusing only upon the electrolysis step, co-electrolysis is more energy-efficient than separate electrolysis".
Note that "the Fischer-Tropsch process, discovered by Germany before World War II", which converts "syngas – hydrogen (H2) and carbon monoxide (CO)" into "synthetically-derived hydrocarbon fuels" was developed not only to convert "syngas" into "hydrocarbon fuels", but, to generate the syngas, in the first place, by the partial oxidation of Coal.
The "co-electrolysis of steam and carbon dioxide" converts CO2 and H2O, as well, into such hydrocarbon syngas. The mechanics of the technology are more fully disclosed in our report of:
Utah 2011 CO2 + H2O = Hydrocarbon Syngas | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 8,075,746 - Electrochemical Cell for Production of Synthesis Gas Using Atmospheric Air and Water; December 13, 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 USDOE's partner in the development of syntrolysis technology, Ceramatec, Inc., formally describes one of their designs for such a "solid oxide electrolytic cell" capable of converting Carbon Dioxide and Water into a blend of Carbon Monoxide, Hydrogen and Oxygen. And, in:
USDOE Reforms Coal Syngas CO2 for Hydrocarbon Synthesis | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 8,366,902 - Methods and Systems for Producing Syngas; 2013; Inventors: Grant Hawkes, et. al., Idaho; Assignee: Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC, Idaho Falls (USDOE Idaho National Laboratory); 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 at a controlled flow rate in a gasifier or combustor to oxidize the carbonaceous fuel to control the carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide ratio produced. Government Interests: This invention was made with government support under Contract Number DE-AC07-05ID14517 awarded by the United States Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in the invention. Claims: A method for forming syngas, comprising: producing heat and a mixed gas comprising carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, water and hydrogen by gasifying a carbonaceous fuel; condensing the mixed gas to remove at least one impurity from the mixed gas and to generate a feed stream; after the condensing act, transferring the heat produced by gasifying the carbonaceous fuel to the feed stream to convert at least a portion of the water in the feed stream to steam; introducing the feed stream to at least one solid-oxide electrolysis cell; electrolyzing carbon dioxide and steam in the feed stream in at least one solid-oxide electrolysis cell to produce carbon monoxide, hydrogen and oxygen; and separating the carbon monoxide and hydrogen from the oxygen. ... The method ... wherein producing heat and a mixed gas comprising carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, water and hydrogen by gasifying a carbonaceous fuel comprises gasifying the carbonaceous fuel in the presence of a portion of the oxygen formed by electrolyzing carbon dioxide and steam to control a ratio of carbon monoxide and hydrogen produced by electrolyzing the carbon dioxide and the steam. ... 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 (and) coal ... 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. ... 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. Another approach is to convert syngas into methanol, which may be converted to gasoline. The term "high temperature electrolysis process" is used to refer to the electrolytic decomposition of water into hydrogen and oxygen at a temperature above 500 C, while the term "co-electrolysis process" is used to refer to the simultaneous electrolytic decomposition of water into hydrogen and oxygen and carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide and oxygen. The term "carbonaceous fuel," as used herein, means and includes (by) way of example only ... a biomass source composed primarily of vegetative matter, such as corn stover, wheat straw, barley straw, tree bark, wood waste, cellulose, bagasse, municipal wastes and combinations thereof. Additionally, the carbonaceous fuel may include a fossil fuel (and) the fossil fuel may be coal. The syngas produced from the carbonaceous fuel may be converted to synfuel using a process known in the art such as, for example, a Fischer-Tropsch process";
the United States Department of Energy disclosed their process for applying syntrolysis technology to hydrocarbon syngas produced by the partial oxidation, the gasification, of Coal and various renewable organic products, in order to, in essence, refine that syngas, breaking any byproduct Carbon Dioxide and H2O contained in it down into more of the desired Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen. Note that the syntrolysis byproduct Oxygen is cycled back to the gasification process to support the gasification of more Coal.
As indicated in the above representative reports, much of the development of syntrolysis technology has taken place at the USDOE's Idaho National Laboratory. Presuming you to have followed our reports thus far, you'll know that the USDOE maintains a number of "National Laboratories" for conducting basic research into the various areas of energy production and use, with, for instance, the Los Alamos and Argonne National Laboratories being perhaps fairly well known because of their widely-reported work in the earlier development of nuclear weapons.
One newer USDOE National Laboratory, likely not as well known as the others, is the USDOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in Golden, Colorado. We have made previous report of them, as in:
USDOE 2014 Sunshine Extracts Hydrogen from Water | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 8,729,798 - Anti-reflective Nanoporous Silicon for Efficient Hydrogen Production; 2014; Assignee: Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, Golden, CO (USDOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory); Abstract: Exemplary embodiments are disclosed of anti-reflective nanoporous silicon for efficient hydrogen production by photoelectrolysis of water. A nanoporous black Si is disclosed as an efficient photocathode for H2 production from water splitting half-reaction. Government Interests: The United States Government has rights in this invention under Contract No. DE-AC36-08GO28308 between the United States Department of Energy and the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, the manager and operator of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory".
More about them and the work they do can be learned via:
National Renewable Energy Laboratory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia; "The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), located in Golden, Colorado, is the United States' primary laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is a government-owned, contractor-operated facility, and is funded through the USDOE"; and:
Mission and Programs | NREL; "NREL develops clean energy and energy efficiency technologies and practices, advances related science and engineering, and provides knowledge and innovations to integrate energy systems at all scales. ... NREL is the only federal laboratory dedicated to the research, development, commercialization, and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies".
And, herein we see that university scholars working at and contracted by the USDOE's NREL have also developed a version of the Idaho National Laboratory and Ceramatec syntrolysis process, wherein Carbon Dioxide, as harvested from whatever handy source, but specifically, as will be seen, a Coal-fired power plant's exhaust stream, and Water, are converted into a blend of Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen syngas suitable for the synthesis, as in "the Fischer-Tropsch process", of liquid and gaseous hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals.
Comment follows and is inserted within excerpts from the initial link in this dispatch to:
"US Patent Application 20140272734 - Electrochemical Device for Syngas and Liquid Fuels Production
September 18, 2014
Inventors: Robert Braun, William Becker, and Michael Penev, CO
(As can be learned via:
Robert Braun | Colorado School of Mines | Newsroom; "Robert Braun, Assistant professor, Division of Engineering; Areas of Expertise: Biofuels; Fuel cells; Renewable energy; Research Interests: Dr. Braun’s primary research interest is in solid-oxide fuel cell systems modeling, simulation and optimization;
http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd/csd14/PF/bios/Becker.pdf; (William Becker is) "an adjunct faculty member in the Colorado Energy Research Institute at the Colorado School of Mines. He is on loan to
both organizations from the U.S. Department of Energy, where he specialized in energy efficiency,
renewable energy technologies and sustainable community development for 15 years"; and:
Mike Penev | LinkedIn; (Michael Penev is a) "Senior Chemical Engineer at National Renewable Energy Laboratory";
the inventors are all associated with or are employed by the USDOE's NREL and/or their research partner, the Colorado School of Mines.)
Abstract: The invention relates to methods for creating high value liquid fuels such as gasoline, diesel, jet and alcohols using carbon dioxide and water as the starting raw materials and a system for using the same. These methods combine a novel solid oxide electrolytic cell (SOEC) for the efficient and clean conversion of carbon dioxide and water to hydrogen and carbon monoxide, uniquely integrated with a gas-to-liquid fuels producing method.
Government Interests: This invention was made with government support under award number KXEA-3-33607-54 awarded by the National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL). The U.S. Government has certain rights in the invention.
Claims: A method for producing liquid fuels, comprising: providing a feed stream comprising carbon dioxide and water; heating the feed stream to produce a heated feed stream; compressing an air stream to produce a pressurized air stream; heating the pressurized air stream to produce a heated air stream; reacting the heated feed stream and the heated air stream in a solid oxide electrolytic cell to form a syngas and an oxygen-containing stream, wherein the electrolytic cell comprises a cathode and an anode and a power supply; treating the syngas stream to produce a treated syngas stream; and converting the syngas to produce the liquid fuels.
The method ... wherein the cathode is at a temperature between about 750 C to about 850 C, and the anode is at a temperature between about 750 C to about 850 C (and) wherein the wherein the cathode is at pressure between about 1.0 bar to about 2.0 bar, and an anode at a pressure between about 1.0 bar to about 2.0 bar (and) further comprising preheating the air stream to produce a preheated air stream, wherein the oxygen-containing stream preheats the air stream utilizing a heat-exchanger.
The method ... wherein the preparing step further comprises removing a hydrogen sulfide from the feed stream to produce a scrubbed feed stream (and) wherein the hydrogen sulfide is removed from the feed stream by a liquid oxidation method to form the scrubbed feed stream (and) polishing the scrubbed feed stream utilizing a zinc oxide bed to produce a polished feed stream; and mixing hydrogen and steam with the polished feed stream to produce an enriched feed stream.
(The above claims dealing with "hydrogen sulfide" are one indication that we are, in fact, dealing not just with Carbon Dioxide, as recovered from whatever handy source, and Water as the starting materials, but, also with CO2 and H2O contained as byproducts in either a stream of syngas, primarily Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen, made by the gasification of Coal, and/or an exhaust gas stream arising from the actual combustion of Coal, most likely for the generation of electric power. And, we remind you, that, as seen for one example in:
Florida Hydrogen and Sulfur from H2S | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 6,572,829 - Photocatalytic Process for Decomposing Hydrogen Sulfide; 2003; Inventors: Clovis Linkhouse and Nazim Muradov, FL; Assignee: University of Central Florida, Orlando; Abstract: System for separating hydrogen and sulfur from hydrogen sulfide (H2S)";
the technology exists to, also using "renewable" energy, i.e., sunlight, break byproduct "hydrogen sulfide" down into commercially valuable elemental Sulfur, and, into Hydrogen, which "hydrogen" can, as in the above claims, be mixed "with the polished feed stream to produce an enriched feed stream".)
A method for producing liquid fuels, comprising: providing a feed stream comprising carbon dioxide and water; removing hydrogen sulfide by scrubbing the feed stream utilizing a liquid oxidation method to form a scrubbed feed stream; polishing the scrubbed feed stream utilizing a zinc oxide bed to produce a polished feed stream; heating the polished feed stream to produce a heated feed stream, wherein the heated feed stream has a temperature between about 800 C to about 850 C; compressing an air stream to a pressure between about 1.0 bar to about 2.0 bar to produce a pressurized air stream; heating the pressurized air stream to produce a heated air stream, wherein the heated air stream has a temperature of about 750 C to about 850 C; reacting the heated feed stream and the heated air stream in a solid oxide electrolytic cell to form a syngas and an oxygen-containing stream; separating condensable components from the syngas to produce a dry syngas, wherein the condensable components comprise water, and wherein condensing comprises cooling the syngas to a temperature of less than about 50 C; compressing the dry syngas to produce a pressurized syngas, wherein the pressurized syngas has a pressure of at least about 35 bar; heating the dry syngas to produce a heated syngas, wherein the heated syngas has a temperature of at least about 800 C; splitting the dry syngas to produce a syngas side-stream and a main syngas stream, wherein the syngas side-stream comprises less than about 5 mass % of the dry syngas stream and the main syngas stream comprises the remainder of the heated syngas; providing the syngas side-stream utilizing a water-gas shift reactor to produce a shifted syngas stream with a hydrogen content higher than a hydrogen content of the syngas side-stream; separating at least a portion of the hydrogen content from the shifted syngas stream to produce a hydrogen recycle stream; feeding the hydrogen recycle stream to the feed stream heating step; and converting the main syngas stream to the liquid fuels.
(Note, that, in the above claims, the "syngas side-stream" is being directed to what is more specifically known as a "water gas shift reaction", which we've previously discussed in the course of our reportage and is a process in which Carbon Monoxide is reacted with H2O to form more Hydrogen, along with byproduct Carbon Dioxide, and, which Hydrogen is then added "to the feed stream heating step" prior to "converting the main syngas stream to the liquid fuels". The byproduct CO2 could presumably be cycled on to the "electrolytic cell" for conversion into more Carbon Monoxide. However, this entire step could be made unnecessary, as we see it, if additional Hydrogen, perhaps as generated via the USDOE/NREL process of the earlier-cited "United States Patent 8,729,798 - Anti-reflective Nanoporous Silicon for Efficient Hydrogen Production", were simply added to the syngas.)
The method ... wherein the liquid fuel is selected from the group consisting of diesel, jet, gasoline, light fuel gas, and mixtures thereof (and) wherein the converting step utilizes Fisher-Tropsch processing to produce the liquid fuels.
The method ... wherein the Fisher-Tropsch processing further comprises: producing a steam stream; and combining the steam stream with the polished feed stream to produce an enriched feed stream (and) further comprising combusting the light fuel gas to produce a first combustion gas in a burner (and) further comprising: combusting the light fuel gas stream to produce a first combustion gas; a first feeding step, wherein the first combustion gas is fed to a first heat-exchanger to heat the polished feed to produce a second combustion gas and the heated feed stream; a second feeding step, wherein the second combustion gas is fed a second heat-exchanger to heat the pressurized air stream to produce a third combustion gas and the heated air stream; a scrubbed feed stream heating step, wherein the third combustion gas is fed to a third heat-exchanger to heat the scrubbed feed stream using the third combustion gas to produce a fourth combustion gas and a preheated scrubbed feed stream; and a third feeding step, wherein the fourth combustion gas is fed to a fourth heat-exchanger to heat the dry syngas to produce a fifth combustion gas and the heated syngas.
(Note, in the above, that provision is made within the process to generate some of the heat energy required to, as needed, raise the temperature of the syngas to that specified for processing.)
The method ... further comprising: an electric power generating step that produces a waste gas comprising carbon dioxide and electrical power; feeding a portion of the electrical power to the solid oxide electrolytic cell (SOEC) power supply; a carbon dioxide capture step that treats the waste gas to produce a purified carbon dioxide stream, wherein the purified carbon dioxide stream is greater than 99.9 vol % pure in carbon dioxide; and feeding the purified carbon dioxide stream to the preparing step (and) wherein the carbon dioxide capture step is achieved by a method that is selected from the group consisting of absorption, cryogenic processing, membrane separation, adsorption, oxy-combustion, and combinations thereof.
The method ... wherein the carbon dioxide capture step is by absorption utilizing a liquid amine (and) wherein the liquid amine is either Selexol or Rectisol.
(Selexol - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia; "Selexol is the trade name for an acid gas removal solvent that can separate acid gases such as hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide from feed gas streams such as synthesis gas produced by gasification of coal".
Rectisol - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia; "Rectisol is the trade name for an acid gas removal process that uses methanol as a solvent to separate acid gases such as hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide from valuable feed gas streams. By doing so, the feed gas is made more suitable for combustion and/or further processing. Rectisol is used most often to treat synthesis gas (primarily hydrogen and carbon monoxide) produced by gasification of coal".)
A system for producing liquid fuels, comprising: a carbon dioxide scrubber for removing sulfur from a feed stream to produce a scrubbed feed stream; a heat exchanger for heating the scrubbed feed stream to produce a heated feed stream; a carbon dioxide polisher to produced a polished feed stream; a heat exchanger to produce a heated polished feed stream; a solid oxide electrolytic cell, wherein the cell comprises: a cathode, wherein the cathode receives the heated polished feed stream and produces a syngas; and an anode, wherein the anode receives an oxygen source stream; a condenser, wherein the condenser removes water from the syngas to produce a dehydrated syngas; and a compressor to compress the dehydrated syngas to produce a compressed syngas.
Background and Field: The invention relates to methods for creating high value liquid fuels, such as gasoline, diesel, and jet using carbon dioxide and water as the starting raw materials. These methods combine a novel solid oxide electrolytic cell (SOEC) for the efficient and clean conversion of these feedstocks to hydrogen and carbon monoxide (syngas), with the SOEC uniquely integrated with a gas-to-liquid fuels process.
In response to increasing energy production requirements and the desire to reduce or eliminate pollutants from energy sources, new, cleaner fuel sources are being sought for a variety of applications, especially for transportation fuels. A known source of cleaner fuels includes synthetic fuels made from synthesis gas, or syngas, by so-called gas-to-liquid conversion processes.
However, standard methods for the production of syngas are fraught with technical challenges and, as a result, cost challenges.
Syngas is produced by ... coal gasification or biomass gasification.
Coal gasification refers to the thermochemical conversion of coal, in a limited oxygen environment, to produce syngas. However, the syngas product stream resulting from coal gasification typically contains numerous contaminants (and, since) many downstream gas-to-liquid conversion processes require a clean syngas feed stream, syngas from coal gasifiers requires additional treatment to remove these contaminants (and, the) cleaning steps result in higher capital and operating costs, which in turn increase the cost per standard cubic foot of clean syngas produced (unit cost).
Biomass gasification faces many of the same syngas contaminant challenges. Thermochemical conversion of biomass (e.g. cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin) produces a wide range of compounds, including oxygenates, aromatic hydrocarbons, phenolics, in addition to benzene, toluene and higher molecular weight tars. One study identified 230 separate chemical compounds formed by the thermal degradation of wood, in addition to carbon monoxide and hydrogen. As a result, syngas produced by biomass gasification, like coal gasification, requires significant processing before the syngas may be used in a gas-to-liquid process. Syngas tar removal is particularly complicated and costly, requiring processing steps like wet and/or dry scrubbing towers, tar cracking, acid gas removal, demisters, coalescers, and/or candle filters. This additional processing increases costs, energy requirements, and ultimately increases syngas unit cost.
(Concerning the above discussion, as we've seen, for just a few examples, in our reports of:
Exxon Co-Gasifies Coal and Carbon-Recycling Biomass | Research & Development | News; concerning: "US Patent Application 20100083575 - Co-gasification Process for Hydrocarbon Solids and Biomass; 2010; Inventors: Ramesh Varadaraj, et. al., NJ; Assignee: ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company, NJ; Abstract: A process for the co-gasification of carbonaceous solids (coal) and biomass in which the biomass material is pyrolyzed to provide a biomass pyrolysis oil and biomass char or coke which are then mixed with the carbonaceous solid to form a slurry. This slurry is then heated if necessary to achieve a viscosity which can be processed conveniently in the gasifier. 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. A process for forming a slurry feed for the gasification to synthesis gas of solid carbonaceous particles and solid biomass, which comprises pyrolyzing the biomass to form biomass pyrolysis oil and biomass char; and mixing the biomass pyrolysis oil and biomass char with the solid carbonaceous particles to form the slurry feed. The process ... wherein the solid carbonaceous particles comprise coal (and) wherein the biomass comprises biological matter selected from wood, plant matter, municipal waste, green waste, byproducts of farming or food processing waste, sewage sludge, black liquor from wood pulp, and algae.lant matter, municipal waste, green waste, byproducts of farming or food processing waste, sewage sludge, black liquor from wood pulp, and algae"; and:
General Electric Co-Gasifies Coal and Biomass for USDOE | Research & Development | News; concerning the report of study: "Product Characterization for Entrained Flow Coal/Biomass Co-Gasification; DOE Award No. DE-NT0006305; Final Technical Report; December 11, 2011; Shawn Maghzi, et. al.; GE Global Research; Niskayuna, NY 12309; Abstract: The U.S. Department of Energy‘s National Energy Technology Laboratory (DOE NETL) is exploring affordable technologies and processes to convert domestic coal and biomass resources to high-quality liquid hydrocarbon fuels. This interest is primarily motivated by the need to increase energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Gasification technologies represent clean, flexible and efficient conversion pathways to utilize coal and biomass resources. Substantial experience and knowledge had been developed worldwide on gasification of either coal or biomass. However, reliable data on effects of blending various biomass fuels with coal during gasification process and resulting syngas composition are lacking. In this project, GE Global Research performed a complete characterization of the gas, liquid and solid products that result from the co-gasification of coal/biomass mixtures. ... Results from this project provide guidance on appropriate gas clean-up systems and optimization of operating parameters needed to develop and commercialize gasification technologies";
it is perfectly feasible to gasify Coal and renewable, carbon-recycling biomass and wastes together, in one combined process, which might enable consolidation of the cleaning processes from both sources for increased efficiency and economy. Moreover, it's enlightening to see just how sophisticated such processes for generating hydrocarbon syngas, from Coal and biomass, have become.)
The cost to produce syngas directly impacts the economic viability of the downstream gas-to-liquid conversion processes. One such process is the Fisher-Tropsch process, which converts syngas to long chained alkanes, including diesel and jet fuel.
Fisher-Tropsch technology has seen limited industrial-scale use. On exception is South Africa, a country with large coal reserves but very little oil. The economic viability of Fisher-Tropsch technology in most of the world depends on the costs of crude oil compared to the costs of producing alternative fuels (and) alternative syngas and gas-to-liquid technologies, and methods to integrate these technologies, is needed. In addition, linking the upstream syngas processes with downstream gas-to-liquid conversion processes requires innovative and novel heat integration methods. Otherwise, such new alternative energy concepts may not be able to compete with the relatively low cost of crude oil.
(Since they mentioned South Africa's extraordinary Coal-to-Liquid Fuel industry, which did evolve from the original "Fischer-Tropsch technology", see, for little more background, our report of:
US EPA Recommends Coal Liquefaction as a Clean Alternative | Research & Development | News; concerning the US EPA report of study: "'Clean Alternative Fuels: Fischer-Tropsch'; United States Environmental Protection Agency; Transportation and Air Quality Transportation and Regional Programs Division; EPA420-F-00-036; March 2002; A Success Story (!) For the past 50 years, Fischer-Tropsch fuels have powered all of South Africa’s vehicles, from buses to trucks to taxicabs. The fuel is primarily supplied by Sasol, a world leader in Fischer-Tropsch technologies. Sasol’s South African facility produces more than 150,000 barrels of high quality fuel from domestic low-grade coal daily. The popular fuel is cost-competitive with crude oil-based petroleum products".)
One promising new option for syngas/synfuel production is high temperature electrolysis technology which can also utilize intermittent renewable energy and provide energy storage in the form of liquid fuels. High temperature solid-oxide fuel cells may be used to produce electricity and water from hydrogen and oxygen. When run in reverse, a solid-oxide fuel cell acts as a solid-oxide electrolytic cell (SOEC), which is capable of electrolytically reducing water and carbon dioxide into hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and oxygen.
Thus, water and carbon dioxide may be directly converted into a clean syngas (made up of hydrogen and carbon monoxide). In a solid-oxide fuel cell, the fuel electrode (i.e., the anode) is the oxidizing gas electrode and the air electrode (i.e., the cathode) is the reducing electrode. When operated in reverse, as a solid-oxide electrolytic cell, the polarity of the cell is switched in which the fuel electrode becomes the cathode reducing the incoming reactants and the oxidant electrode becomes the anode. It has been shown that an SOEC may be used for high temperature co-electrolysis of water and carbon dioxide to produce clean hydrogen and carbon monoxide, thus eliminating the costly tar and contaminant removal steps present in coal and biomass gasification processes.
The present invention provides a novel method for producing syngas, integrated with a gas-to-liquid conversion process ... .
Summary: The present invention discloses a novel fuel production method that integrates an optimized upstream, high temperature solid oxide co-electrolysis system for the production of clean syngas from carbon dioxide and steam with a downstream gas-to-liquid conversion process to produce liquid hydrocarbon fuels.
One aspect of the present invention is a novel heat integration method that utilizes a fraction of the liquid fuel produced to provide the SOEC's thermal energy requirements. In addition, the present invention discloses further integration between the up- and downstream processes, which generates steam, reuses plant water, and recycles Some or all of the hydrogen derived from the syngas and fuel synthesis processing steps back to the SOEC. This hydrogen recycle reduces SOEC operational costs and, therefore, the unit cost of the syngas produced.
An aspect of the present invention comprises a method to produce liquid fuels from flue gas. The method comprises producing a fuel (should read "flue") gas in a power plant, wherein the flue gas comprises carbon dioxide and providing the flue gas to a solid oxide electrolytic cell, wherein the carbon dioxide in the flue gas reacts at a cathode of the solid oxide electrolytic cell to produce syngas, and wherein power produced in the power plant powers the solid oxide electrolytic cell.
In some embodiments of the present invention, the pressurized syngas and/or the treated syngas may be converted to produce liquid fuels.
In some embodiments of the present invention, the syngas may be converted to liquid fuels including, but not limited to, diesel, jet, gasoline, and light fuel gas by Fisher-Tropsch methods".
In sum, the United States Government's Department of Energy has demonstrated that Carbon Dioxide is a valuable renewable energy resource.
Through the process of our subject, "US Patent Application 20140272734 - Electrochemical Device for Syngas and Liquid Fuels Production", as the USDOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory and it's research partners at the Colorado School of Mines have explained, Carbon Dioxide reclaimed from "flue gas" co-produced by "a power plant", or from hydrocarbon "syngas ... produced by ... coal gasification or biomass gasification", can be used and consumed as the key raw material in the manufacture of "liquid fuels including, but not limited to, diesel, jet, gasoline".
The full Disclosure is much lengthier and more complex than our limited excerpts indicate. And, it explains and describes much more fully how thermal energy arising from some steps in the total process and from associated processes, which processes include combustion of some of the lower-value fuels that are synthesized, such as the "light fuel gas" in the specified "Fisher-Tropsch methods", can be collected or conserved, and used to help drive or to facilitate other components of the complete sequence wherein Carbon Dioxide is converted, first, into "syngas", and, then, into "diesel" and "gasoline".
Keep in mind that this is just one more recent example, related to others, such as:
USDOE 2012 Coal Power Plant CO2 to Gasoline | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 8,226,909 - Systems Including Catalysts in Porous Zeolite Materials Within a Reactor for Use In Synthesizing Hydrocarbons; 2012; Inventors: Harry Rollins, et. al., Idaho; Assignee: Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC, Idaho Falls (USDOE Idaho National Laboratory operated for the USDOE by Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC.)Abstract: Catalytic structures include a catalytic material disposed within a zeolite material. The catalytic material may be capable of catalyzing a formation of methanol from carbon monoxide and/or carbon dioxide ... . Government Interests: This invention was made with government support under Contract No. DE-AC07-05ID14517 awarded by the United States Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in the invention. Claims: A system for synthesizing hydrocarbon molecules having two or more carbon atoms from hydrogen and at least one of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide ... . ... Carbon dioxide gas (CO2) may be converted into liquid fuels such as, for example, hydrocarbon molecules of between about 5 carbon atoms and about 12 carbon atoms per molecule (e.g., gasoline) through multi-step reactions";
wherein our own United States Government, via the United States Department of Energy, has told us, openly and publicly and plainly, that we could, if we were motivated enough to do so, put more of our fellow US Coal Country citizens to work, and free the entire United States of America from it's economic enslavement to OPEC, by harvesting the byproduct Carbon Dioxide arising from either our economically essential use of Coal in the generation of reliable and affordable electric power, or, if we woke up to the fact we could do so, in the synthesis of liquid hydrocarbon fuels from our domestic Coal via a process like the one they've been using in South Africa for more than half a century, and then converting that Carbon Dioxide into even more "liquid fuels including, but not limited to, diesel, jet" and "gasoline".
Obviously, the coffee's been brewing over in South Africa for a long time, though most folks in the United States of America have apparently, we should say obviously, preferred to ignore it. Herein, the United States Government itself has brought that pot over here, added Carbon Dioxide to the beans, and turned the heat up to a boil.
If we're able somehow to ignore all of that in US Coal Country, with all of the potentials for new jobs and new industries it suggests, we're not sound asleep, we're all brain dead.
Someone - one of the neighbors will probably have to do it - might as well call the coroner for us.