December 20, 2007 Finding new ways to capture environmentally harmful emissions and use them to generate power is a positive step in the effort to slow global warming. The latest news from this arena comes from Hunton Energy, which has announced plans to build and operate a Synthetic Natural Gas (SNG) plant at Dow’s Oyster Creek Facility on the Texas Gulf Coast which will capture 100 percent of its own CO2 emissions, using turbines to produce additional power from its byproduct steam.
The gasification process converts any carbon-containing material into a synthesis gas composed primarily of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, which can be used as a fuel to generate electricity or steam, or used as a basic chemical building block for a large number of uses in the petrochemical and refining industries. In this case synthetic natural gas (SNG) will be manufactured by reacting pure oxygen with petroleum coke and biomass (wood chips, rice hulls, etc.) to produce syngas (CO, H2, H2S, and CO2) and vitrified (glassy) slag.
Gasification breaks down fuel into elemental forms. Clean, low cost energy enters pipelines as gas and the power grid as electricity, while all the CO2 is compressed and safely piped into gas and oil production fields. Every byproduct from the plant is captured or used. The syngas will be subsequently converted into methane (SNG) and three byproducts: sulfur (liquid), high purity CO2 and slag. The byproduct sulfur will be sold into the fertilizer market, the byproduct slag will be sold into the concrete/aggregate market and the byproduct CO2 will be sold into the enhanced oil recovery market to stimulate oil production.
“By switching from our site-produced steam to this new technology offered by Hunton, we will be reducing Dow’s CO2 emissions in Freeport and thereby reinforcing our publicly stated Climate Change sustainability goal to reduce the company’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20 percent by 2015,” said Rich Wells, vice president of Energy for Dow Chemical.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with The Dow Chemical Company has been signed for the project which will utilize one of two proprietary gasification processes approved by the Department of Energy (DOE) and eligible for DOE funding. Hunton says the concept is beyond what any energy provider is currently offering and that the Freeport Project will be the first commercial energy facility to utilize an industrial by-product to generate clean energy and will validate gasification as a clean, economic competitive process. As this process works with coal, an abundant U.S. resource, and other low value feed stocks, Hunton hopes the plant will help move the U.S. toward energy independence while also providing clean energy.
Hunton Energyestimates a fourth quarter 2008 groundbreaking for the project.