improvements in gasification technology are quite feasible and that cooperative programs with industry could help identify opportunities to improve both fluidized-bed and moving fixed-bed systems, leading to increased efficiency of advanced power generation systems.
For coproduct systems producing clean fuels and electricity, requirements for maximizing system efficiency are much alike. However, air-blown systems would be at a disadvantage. If oxygen systems are used, minimized oxygen consumption is important, and low-temperature gasification with methane production would require less heat and therefore less oxygen. Catalytic fluidized-bed systems offer potential for this application and have been studied in the past, but no currently active programs have been identified by the committee.
The ongoing SST program includes demonstration of six commercial gasification technologies. In addition, the proposed FY 1995 FE coal R&D program budget for Advanced Clean/Efficient Power Systems includes significant funding for construction of an advanced air-blown, moving fixed-bed gasifier, which has the potential to meet the IGCC-2 efficiency goal of 45 percent and minimize production of coal tar. However, since air rather than oxygen is used, this system would not be well suited for the production of clean fuels requiring hydrogen or syngas. A significant reduction in the DOE budget for advanced gasification research has been proposed for FY 1995 (see Chapter 6), despite the needs and research opportunities for improved gasification efficiency for both power generation and clean fuels production.
Production of pure hydrogen from fossil fuels involves oxidation and separation, together with conversion of CO and water to H2 and CO2 by the water-gas shift reaction. This set of processes is quite mature but is being improved by competing catalyst manufacturers and developers of hydrogen production technology, with ammonia manufacture a main outlet. Apart from advanced research on separation processes, there appears to be minimal need for DOE participation developing processes for manufacture of merchant hydrogen.
Production of pure hydrogen is expensive and a major consumer of energy. Clean fuels production processes that conserve hydrogen and involve in situ conversion of CO and water to H2 provide important gains in efficiency and cost reduction through heat integration and provide a preferred option for synthetic fuels manufacture.
While the current low-cost of natural gas makes synthetic natural gas (SNG)