CLARIANT says that pilot plant trials of its new VESTA methanation technology to make synthesis natural gas (SNG) from coal or petroleum coke have been successful.
The process, which was jointly developed by Clariant, Wison Engineering and Amec Foster Wheeler, is now ready for commercialisation. The partners say that the process is safer and more reliable than existing technologies and is more economical, as it is a once-through process which does not require specialist compressors. Clariant provided the proprietary catalyst, Wison was responsible for the engineering design, construction and operational management of the pilot plant, and Amec Foster Wheeler provided the process technology. The pilot plant was built in 2014 and completed process runs in April 2016.
The technology uses syngas obtained by gasifying coal or petroleum coke. The tests showed that H2 and CO ratios do not need to be strictly controlled. The proprietary catalyst has a high conversion rate and a wider operating temperature range than other catalysts – 230–700?C – and the process is simple to control. Minimal control of the CO2 and H2O levels of the SNG means that triethylene glycol (TEG) dehydration systems are not necessary, thus saving money.
According to Clariant, analysis shows that the technology can add RMB 200m/y of value to coal, based on an example plant producing 4bn m3/y of SNG.
“Wison Engineering has […] further enhanced its capabilities in coal chemicals industry. In the long run, SNG will play a strategic role in facilitating the clean coal utilisation in China. The new technology's commercialisation will significantly reduce the cost of SNG production and accelerate its development,” said Chen Huimei, senior vice president of Wison Engineering.
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