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April 26, 2006


G Eddy

At some point, it would be useful to have someone translate coal methanation to a dollar comparison calculating the price of coal, plus the cost of methanation to the price of natural gas (NG being about 85% methane), so we might better understand the economics of this technology.

Jim Baerg

I wonder how easily this process could be modified to produce a liquid fuel like an alcohol or a medium length hydrocarbon.

Non-fossil energy sources such as nuclear & wind are fine for making electricity, & off peak power can be used to make hydrogen which can used for most of the same things as methane. So far there doesn't seem to be a non-fossil way to run all the mobile machinery like cars, bulldozers & farm tractors we have. So coal to liquids seems much more useful to me than coal to methane.

Mike Morgan

What are the by products?


This seems like a good system, but their web site is quite lacking in details.
1)How is the steam heated? With some of the methane?
2)Can anthracite be cracked?
3)Is there independent verification or published papers?
4)Is steam added in excess? Is it recovered?
5)Is lime necessary or useful to control acid products? Before or after reforming?
It seems a bit too good to be true.


It doesn't seem too good to be true to me. I'm not even sure it's good at all..?

The efficiency is 65%, which means that 35% of the BTUs in the coal are not put to use.

Only 50% of the CO2 *can* be captured and sequestered. Most likely, it will go up the stack in most plants (if they're built).

If no carbon is captured, this technology will TRIPPLE CO2 emissions compared to (fossil) natural gas! (CO2 per BTU from coal is twice that of natural gas (in rough numbers), and you need 3 BTU of coal to yeild 2 BTU natural (blue) gas)

With CO2 sequestration, the best case scenario is 100% more CO2 into the atmosphere. (The carbon content in the coal is roughly split half'n'half to CO2 and blue gas)

I hope you will forgive me for not cheering loudly.


p.s. The minimum CO2 emission from coal-to-gas is of course the CO2 emission from the resulting gas, i.e. never less than natural gas


This process powered by wind and solar would actually work well at reducung CO 2. But you still have CO 2 release when the fuel is burned in vehicles.

And yes methane can be converted to liquid fuel, namely methanol, with electric plasma conversion. Using wind powered electricity at 2 cents per kwh. By running conversion when wind is blowing at high speeds, wind power can be stored in this liquid fuel.

The CO 2 can be fed into an solar collector algae system to produce more liquid fuel, biodiesel or ethanol, and more methane. The methane then converted to more methanol, which works in flex fuel vehicles.

But as you say Thomas, using standard refining with coal combustion providing the refining energy, forget about it. It's another boondoggle waiting for subsidies. Pumping CO 2 down underground? Ridiculous scamming by the fossil fuel industry.

It will only slow the conversion to renewable energy in the form of electric plugin vehicles.

Nearly 20% of petroleum we use goes to power refineroes for that petroleum right now. A huge waste of oil (traded for the blood of US soldiers)and source of greenhouse gases, easily avoidable with wind and solar powered refining.


Hey amazing,
Where do you get wind power for 2 cents/kWh? The most optimistic figures I've seen from AWEA are 4-5 cents. And they're just as enthusiastic about wind as I am.

For the record, I prefer avoiding burning fossil fuels altogether, but that will not happen overnight. But I think the best use for fossil fuel is to burn/use it directly. Avoid all conversions because they inherently cause waste, i.e. more CO2 emission.

To save natural gas, the best and most environmentally benign fossil fuel, I propose to use wind power to upgrade tar sands. This upgrading requires heat and hydrogen, both of which could be supplied from wind, but mostly the hydrogen.

I have dissed the hydrogen economy on numerous occations, but only because conversion from electricity, to hydrogen and back to electricity wastes 65-80% of the energy. However, if it is hydrogen you need (for whatever) wind powered hydrolosys is a great way to go. And just a minor buffer tank could smooth out variations in wind.

The way it's done now - using the best fossil fuel to turn a horrible fuel into a (valuable) bad fossil fuel - just makes me want to cry.

Hey, maybe hydrogen from wind could be used to upgrade coal..?

Btw, amazing, I have no problem with CO2 sequestration, *if they actually do it*! The same goes for coal power plants. Carbon sequestration, all for it! Especially since that would definitely make wind more economical ;-)

(Early studies in Denmark/Europe have shown that carbon sequestration rougly doubles the cost of coal power - half the extra cost for expensive installations and half for fuel cost, because all sequestration schemes have a penalty on thermal efficiency)



That was my guess. Sequestration, pumping CO 2 underground (!?!?), eats up half, and since the US features industry "self-regulation" (no regulation) it will never actually be done.

Strictly lipservice to get subsidies for coal to liquid fuel schemes. Once they are built and sequestration is clesarly a scam will they be sgut down? Hehehey.

Yep, wind for the tar sands. Electric plasma can do it all in one step without separate refining, and as you say add hydrogen from split water. That electric plasma process for conversion of methane to methanol does not give off CO 2.

As you know I favor renewable electric battery transportation, skip the combustion completely.

But I recognize the powerful interests behind fossil and nukes will probably win out in the end. It's a hopeless fight.

And can you guess why wind won't even be used to process fuel? Because every wind plant built proves the practicality of wind, a dire threat to fossil and nukes.

The 2 cent figure is the latest cost estimate from great plains wind farms. I'll try to find the link.



Here it is Thomas. 2 cents, from NREL in summer 2005.

You have to consider a 30 or 40 year bond financing scheme at very low interest rates and depreciation (as with all utility projects) and no fuel to soar in price for wind.

Both nuclear and fossil fuels are starting to take off in price as unregulated market manipulation occurs, likewise with solar as capital investment in silicon fabs lags demand for PV cells.

The non exotic materials and design of wind power prevents market manipulation for the most part. But consider Cape Wind, political manipulation to outlaw offshore wind is riding on the back of that controversial project.

And as subsidies to nuclear, agribizz fuel farming, and fossil increase over and over again, wind could still be left out.


It bothers me a little that GreatPoint continually refers to 'their' pilot plant in Des Plaines. The facility is part of the Gas Technology Institute and GTI deserves some credit. GTI, originally IGT (maybe a few others, too), was once part of the Illinois Institute of Technology and funded by a tax on pipe delivered natural gas.

Anyhow, I was at the facility while the BlueGas unit was operational. The pilot plant is set up to combust/gasify any number fuels including wood chips, cow patties, trash, etc (combustible carbon sources). The BlueGas technologies are plug-n-play add-ons installed to the existing facility. It was cool to see this stuff in action months before Great Point Energy made the press release.

I hope Great Point is successful at producing natural gas that complies with contamination specs of industrial, commercial, and home-use gas. That alone has been one of the bigger hang-ups. Perhaps coal power will see this as an opportunity to shut down the terrible facilities they are currently operating and replace them all. Wouldn’t it be great if one of the biggest contributors to mercury, particulate, CO2, SOx, and NOx emissions became the smallest?


Sounds too good to be true. And what is the catalyst in this catalytic process?


The reality we face is that the USA has more energy than the entire middle east in the form of coal (and our friends in Canada have the same benefit in the form of tar sands). Unlike oil reserves we know where the coal is. Therefore there is no exploration risk like in further exploitaion of oil and gas reserves. The main issue always raised in exploiting this vast wealth of coal reserves is what to do with the CO2. I am curious if anyone has considered further methanation of the CO2 stream as an alternative to sequestration. In concept, one could convert H2O into H2 and oxygen (preferably using renewable power). Then the CO2 + 4H2 could be converted to CH4 (methane) and 2H2O (water). The methanation catalysts are well known (primarily nickle) and are reputed to last 10 years. Even if the amount of energy input to methanize the CO2 equals or slightly exceeds the amount of usable methane produced, we would have solved the puzzle of how to exploit our coal reserves without creating vast amounts of CO2 emissions.


Um, what would we do with the methane then? If you burn it you get C02, and you've lost energy in the process.


Last I knew, coal gasification produced a carcinogenic char which could not easily be disposed of. Are there carcinogenic compounds produced by this process ?


This process seems to just strip the volitile matter from the coal. Those hydrocarbons are then cracked in the reactor.

Can this system really convert the fixed carbon in coal to CO (which is needed for the mathanation reaction)?


Anyone interested in this should go take a look at this... that I was reeading this morning... in particular their website...


Jupiter Announces World's First Oxy-fuel Clean Coal Retrofit

Ohio Power Plant to use Oxy-fuel Technology for Ultra Low Emissions

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, Sep. 25 -/E-Wire/-- Jupiter Oxygen, with the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority and Orrville Utilities announced today that work will begin on the world's first oxy-fuel clean coal retrofit of an operating electric power plant. At the Orrville, Ohio 25 megawatt plant, Jupiter will utilize its patented Oxy-fuel technology combined with the National Energy Technology Laboratory's Integrated Pollutant Removal (IPR) technology to create the first-of-its-kind Oxy-fuel clean coal electric power plant. When the $34 million retrofit is completed in 2008, the plant will meet FutureGen's 2020 goals for ultra-low emissions of mercury, NOx, SOx, and particulates, as well as be CO2 capture ready.

With a 250-year supply and 35% of the known reserves, the United States is essentially the Saudi Arabia of coal. Unfortunately, coal does not naturally burn cleanly, and it is difficult to attain permits for the construction of new coal-fired plants. This makes the development and use of clean coal technology important to America's drive to become energy independent. Jupiter Oxygen's combustion technology has been used commercially since 1997 and is now emerging as the most promising technology for use in coal-fired power plants. Unlike most clean coal technologies being developed, Jupiter's process can be designed into new plants, or used to retrofit the existing 600 coal fueled electric power plants in operation throughout the United States.

"This innovative technology promises great economic benefits by providing existing power plants the capacity to modernize and deliver clean and economical power to our country and helps reduce the need to construct costly new facilities," stated Ralph Regula (R-Ohio 16th). "Developing a clean and cost effective way to convert coal to energy is vital to America's future. I am pleased to have been in a position to help secure the initial funding for this project."

"This is a major step in the advancement of clean coal technology and Jupiter's Oxy-fuel process," stated Dietrich Gross, CEO, Jupiter Oxygen. "We are confident that the Orrville retrofit project will show the nation that we can safely use coal to meet our country's need for electricity."

"We are excited to have had our plant chosen for this first of its kind Oxy-fuel clean coal power plant," stated Dan Preising, Director of Utilities, Orrville Utilities. "It is important to find a way to make our country's existing fleet of power plants cleaner and safer for our environment."

The good news for consumers is that not only will Jupiter's Oxy-fuel technology reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal burning power plants, it will do so at a cost that will not affect them financially. In fact, the fuel savings and increased power plant efficiencies give Jupiter's technology a clear cost advantage over other clean coal technologies, especially coal gasification.

For new coal-fired power plants with carbon capture, the production cost for electricity is projected to be 1.7 cents per kwh. The total cost of electricity, including amortization and capital expenses, is projected to be only 5.1 cents per kwh. Each of these cost figures is lower then those of alternative clean coal technologies, which do not achieve the same results as Jupiter's Oxy-fuel/IPR hybrid technology.

Jupiter's patented process uses oxygen instead of air to burn the coal necessary to create the steam needed for power generation. Rather than reducing emissions of a single pollutant, the combined Jupiter Oxygen/IPR hybrid system combines technologies into a multi-pollutant control "package" that has been demonstrated to be an exceptionally effective environmental control system. In fact, testing shows that it is both practical and efficient to capture virtually all pollutants. The results indicated a 95% CO2 capture rate, 90% removal of all mercury, 99+% sulfur removal, 99+% particulate capture including more then 80% of the PM 2.5 particulate and a combustion level for NOx of only .088 Lbs/ MMBtu.

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Jupiter Oxygen is a privately held company that has developed a revolutionary technology that makes it practical and cost effective to operate environmental friendly coal and other fossil fueled electric power plants. Jupiter's technology is the innovative application of oxygen instead of air for fossil fuel combustion, which removes the barriers for carbon capture. Jupiter's Oxy-fuel technology is patented in the United States and many other countries, and patents are pending throughout the world. The technology has been successfully used in commercial furnaces since 1997. Additional information on Jupiter Oxygen can be found at www.jupiteroxygen.com.



For those asking if it can use the char to produce gas should read more closely:

One of the feedstocks they mention is petroleum coke. Petroleum Coke is almost 100% pure carbon. So that should answer your question ;)

Henry Gibson

There are many people who mindlessly state that coal burning is dirty and that coal is dirty. The way that coal was burnt in the various little fire place grates in London was dirty. Hauling sacks of coal by Sailors to fuel Navy and other ships was dirty. Oil is no cleaner but is easier to handle. To produce 100 gallons of refined oil, another 23 gallons of crude oil must be used to heat and run the processes. Some complain that electric cars only shift the pollution elsewhere, but with gasoline and diesel cars the connection with the poluting refinery is not even ever mentioned, and only occassionally is the far lower efficiency of the gasoline car considered.

For the amount of energy actually delivered to the wheels of a car, petroleum energy produces at least twice the carbon dioxide that the same amount of energy delivered to the motor of your fan or air conditioner from a COAL powered power plant produces.

Burning natural gas does actually produce less carbon dioxide in a steam power plant than burning coal does, but it is not 30% less, and much of the energy in natural gas is wasted because much of its extra energy is in the hydrogen that is released as hot steam up the stack rather than having the heat extracted in a home condensing furnace. It is far better to have homes and factories burn natural gas, and let the power companies burn coal. Each home or office can now install small cogeneration units that can produce heat and electricity far more efficiently than power companies can do. When more home and business cogeneration units are installed, the gas utilities ought to be regulated so that the gas burned in such units is close to the price that the power companies pay. Such use of natural gas reduces the carbon emissions by at least 40% over having the gas burnt at a power plant. This is a much better reduction than switching such plants from coal to natural gas, and it saves money for the cogenerator. In one very exceptional situtation, a school in California saved enough money on cogeneration in three months to pay for its new system. The usual period is about 2 years. Home and business cogeneration is a far better investment than solar power if natural gas is available and already used for heating.hg...

Tidy Mart

Tidy Mart is not only deal in trading, liaisoning of coal but also conform to quality standards which are at par with international standards. Years of experience in this field have given them an edge over others.

Thermal Coal / Steam Coal / Non Coking Coal

Tidy Mart representing an Indonesian Coal Company, which is having 35 years of experiences in this Coal Industry. We have been trading in the South Asian Continent and China. The company has in view of the increased cost of crude oil in particular, seen a significant increase in demand for coal to power stations and cement factories. So we have expanded our mining operations to meet the increased demand, and have at the moment 10million tons reserves of various grades of coal from 5300 GVC to 6500 GVC. We have offices at Japan, Thailand & China.

Coal Grades:
# 5600 to 5300 GVC Low grade
# 6000 to 5700 GVC Medium+ grade
# 6300 to 6000 GVC High Grade
# 6500 to 6300 GVC Very high grade
# Ash Fusion Temperature (ID, TI) 1250°C Min, Size: 0 -50

Shipping :

8000 ton barges and tugs are at our disposal for shipments to Asian and South China ports. For other areas, we are able to charter tonnages from 20,000 tons to Panamax at short notice through our exclusive broker networks at competitive rates. We are supplying Steam Coal Inspected by SGS or Similar.

Loading Port: One safejetty in South Kalimantan


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