Chemicals and Fertilizers
Modern gasification has been used in the chemical industry since the 1950s. Typically, the chemical industry uses gasification to produce methanol as well as chemicals, such as ammonia and urea, which form the foundation of nitrogen-based fertilizers. The majority of the operating gasification plants worldwide produce chemicals and fertilizers. A recent study has determined that about 25% of the worlds ammonia and over 30% of the worlds methanol is now produced by gasification (Higman and Tam). And, as natural gas and oil prices continue to increase, especially in Asia, the chemical industry is developing additional coal gasification plants to generate these basic chemical building blocks. See the range of chemicals produced from coal gasification.
Eastman Chemical Company helped advance the use of coal gasification technology for chemicals production in the U.S. Eastman's coal-to-chemicals plant in Kingsport, Tennessee converts Appalachian coals to methanol and acetyl chemicals. The plant began operating in 1983 and has gasified approximately 10 million tons of coal with a 98 to 99 percent on-stream availability rate.
Kingsport Gasification Plant, Eastman Chemical Company, Kingsport, Tennessee, USA
Gasification is the foundation for converting coal and other solid feedstocks and natural gas into transportation fuels such as gasoline, ultra-clean diesel fuel, jet fuel, naphtha, and synthetic oils. There are two basic paths used in converting coal to motor fuels via gasification. In the first, the syngas undergoes an additional process, the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) reaction, to convert it to a liquid petroleum product. The FT process, with coal as a feedstock, was invented in the 1920s, used by Germany during World War II, and has been utilized in South Africa for decades. Today, this process is used in Malaysia and the Middle East with natural gas as the feedstock.
In the second process, so-called Methanol to Gasoline (MTG), the syngas is first converted to methanol (a commercially used process) and the methanol is then converted to gasoline by reacting it over catalysts. A commercial MTG plant successfully operated in the 1980s and early 1990s in New Zealand and projects are currently under development in China and the U.S.