Monday, June 29, 2009

$1.9 billion DME plant in Indonesia

BLUE FUEL ENERGY.COM: On June 25, 2009 the Jakarta Post published an article announcing the construction of a new DME plant in Indonesia, an encouraging development for proponents of this fuel around the world. Although the article notes that the DME is produced from ethanol, this clearly is a typo or a mistranslation given that DME is typically derived from methanol.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Is the time right for underground coal gasification?

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Coal is the most abundant fossil fuel on the planet. Given the human population’s insatiable appetite for energy, it is unlikely that this resource will go untapped. Therefore, the challenge is to develop methods that allow coal to be exploited in as environmentally sensitive a way as possible, so that we may reap the economic rewards of the energy it holds without compromising the livability of the planet.

One of the conventional methods of producing DME is through the gasification of mined coal to produce syngas which is then synthesized into DME. This process can be costly and environmentally damaging. The underground gasification of coal (UGC) may offer some answers to these disadvantages.

The UCG Partnership has outlined the basic concept behind UCG and a number of financial and environmental advantages of UCG relative to conventional mining and subsequent gasification techniques.

“Underground Coal Gasification is the gasification of coal in situ, directly in the underground seam, producing a high quality, affordable synthetic gas that can be processed to provide fuels for power generation, diesel fuels, jet fuels, hydrogen, fertilisers and chemical feedstocks. The technique offers many financial and social benefits over traditional extraction methods, most notably lower emissions, as no coal is brought to the surface and the gas can be processed to remove its CO2 content.

Many countries rich in coal reserves have few alternative indigenous energy sources, however nearly 85% of known coal reserves are deemed unmineable with surface mining techniques… Experts believe UCG could triple or quadruple the availability of coal globally.

Financial Benefits
• Capital and operating costs are lower than in traditional mining
• Reduced cost of plant installation - No Surface Gasifier
• Syngas can be piped directly to the end-user, reducing the need for rail / road infrastructure
• Lowers the cost of environmental clean up due to solid waste being confined underground
• CCGT power plants can be switched from natural gas to cheaper UCG product gas
• Manufacture of chemicals such as ammonia and fertilizers
• Synthesis of liquid fuels at a predicted cost equivalent to US$20/barrel
• Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) by injection of stripped CO2
Environmental Benefits
• UCG may not require an external water source to operate, a major environmental advantage over water-intensive coal mining operations and pulverised-coal-fired energy production methods
• Lower emissions, because gasification in UCG is underground thereby reducing environmental management costs
• Particulates are generated at half the rate of their surface equivalents and stay underground
• Lower fugitive dust, noise, visual impact on the surface
• Low risk of surface water pollution
• Reduced methane emissions - coal seam gas is recovered in the process, rather than lost in the atmosphere as in most conventional mining
• No dirt handling and disposal at mine sites
• No coal washing and fines disposal at mine sites
• Smaller surface footprints at power stations
• Lower water recovery and significant surface hazard liabilities on abandonment

In addition to these benefits, the linking of carbon capture and storage with underground coal gasification makes the argument for UCG even more compelling. Carbon dioxide can be stripped out of the syngas produced through gasification and reinjected into the very coal seam from which it was extracted, making for a carbon neutral energy cycle."

There is still much work to be done in the field of underground coal gasification. While it has been in commercial application in the Soviet Union for over 40 years, development elsewhere has been slow. But with the ever increasing need to reduce our carbon footprint, it seems like the time may be ripe for this technology to reach its full potential.

Friday, June 5, 2009

China Energy Ltd. optimistic about DME prospects despite price fluctuation

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: China Energy Limited, a Singapore-registered company with group offices in Linyi, Shandong, PRC, is China's leading DME producer with an output capacity of 900,000 metric tons per annum.

According to their most recent Financial Statement and Dividend Announcement, however, China Energy's ability to produce DME at full capacity may be restricted by lower energy prices for both DME and LPG resulting from the financial market turmoil worldwide and in the PRC, particularly since the price of DME is linked closely to that of LPG.

Despite these price challenges, China Energy believes that, even short-term, DME prospects in China are good and cite the VAT reduction on DME from 17% to 15% last year as a key indication that the PRC government is firmly behind DME as a means to reduce air pollution and as a prudent energy security initiative - important reasons that apply also to Blue Fuel, DME produced from renewable sources.

China Energy uses a patented stet technology called “Liquid Phase Compound Acid Dehydration Production Process”, which enables them to produce DME at lower temperatures and lower pressures, compared to more conventional DME production methods.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Core sampling signals next step in large-scale sequestration project

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: A large-scale carbon dioxide sequestration project is under development in northern British Columbia, Canada. The project is located near Spectra Energy’s Fort Nelson natural gas processing plant. The project is an international collaboration that includes Spectra Energy, the Province of British Columbia, Natural Resources Canada, the Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

In its press release the DOE describes the project as one of the first commercial-scale carbon capture and storage projects in a saline aquifer in North America. With projected storage of over two million tons of CO2 per year it is slated to be one of the largest carbon sequestration projects in the world. The goal of the project is to develop technology, infrastructure and regulations for the implementation of large-scale CO2 sequestration.

The PCOR Partnership has begun collecting core samples and is implementing a well logging program. “Core sampling and well logging help determine a site’s geologic suitability for safe and permanent storage of CO2. Coring of the Elk Point rock formations at Fort Nelson will provide researchers, geologists, and reservoir experts with characterization data of the carbonate formations that will be used to store the CO2 and the impermeable shale layers above that will act as a cap rock to contain the CO2. As part of these activities, numerous geomechanical and geochemical tests designed to evaluate the performance of the reservoir and containment rocks will be performed.

The information collected from the core samples, together with tests and well logging, will be critical in developing simulation models and the anticipated design and implementation of CO2 injection. The project is expected to involve the eventual transportation of CO2 from Spectra Energy’s Fort Nelson natural gas processing plant to the injection site.”

This is just one of many stories about CO2 capture and storage appearing recently. For Blue Fuel/DME producers these news stories are promising ones. For conventional producers of Blue Fuel/DME from coal and natural gas feedstocks, the development of carbon capture and storage technology at the production stage is crucial for the acceptance of their product in a world increasingly dominated by the concept of carbon-neutrality. In addition, should producers of conventional or carbon-neutral Blue Fuel/DME sell their product for utilization at a point source such as an electrical power plant, carbon capture and storage at the end stage would further enhance the green profile of their fuel, increase its competitive edge and further reduce its impact on global climate change.