SOURCE: SYNGAS Refiner

October 19, 2007 14:48 ET

GTC 2007 Highlights Increased Petrochemicals, SNG Output

HOUSTON, TX--(Marketwire - October 19, 2007) - In an industry survey at last this week's Gasification Technologies Conference in San Francisco, 32% of delegates believe the chemicals production industry has the most growth potential in using gasification.

This vote was reinforced by Mark Costa, VP, Eastman Chemical, who said that his company, which is already involved in the Beaumont and Faustina projects and developing two more US gasification plants to focus on coal-derived methanol, would continue to build more gasification plants in the US using petroleum coke and not move to the Middle East to increase production of acetyls and olefins.

Power generation came in at 25% in the GTC survey followed by substitute natural gas (SNG) at 15% and transportation fuels at 9%, which have become an urgent issue in the US but coal-to-liquids (CTL) fuels have been shown to emit less CO2 when consumed than petroleum-derived fuels in peer-reviewed studies at Princeton and MIT. A Baard Energy study also showed how plants using a coal/biomass blend could make fuels that are comparable to refinery fuels as far as the release of CO2 when used in vehicles.

Contrary to this, this year's keynote speaker, David Hawkins, National Resources Defense Council, recommended the industry build IGCC plants but not develop CTL because of the increased carbon from tailpipe emissions, inciting disagreement from much of the conference.

Reliability and maintenance of operating plants were the least of the group's concerns as only 4% of the gathering saw this is a problem now that the industry has demonstrated the operational reliability of gasifiers to guarantee steady syngas production.

Advancing the use of carbon capture, application and sequestration (CCAS) took center stage at the conference. With no certain rules to follow or US regulatory framework on how to deal with CO2 emissions, US power generators are reverting to using natural-gas combined-cycle plants to boost baseload requirements. In response, gasification plant developers plan to produce more SNG to feed this natural gas demand.

Globally, China is accelerating its conversion of coal to methanol for gasoline blendstocks and the increased production of plastics to meet the needs of a modern society, while India will use coal and petcoke for much needed power generation and diesel fuel production.

SYNGAS Refiner, published by the Zeus Development Corporation, is following these developments and more with its twice-monthly newsletter and real-time email news service. More online at www.SYNGASRefiner.com.

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    Amy Nussmeier
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    Zeus Development Corp
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