There are currently 74 plants under construction worldwide that will have a total of 238 gasifiers and produce 83 MWth. Thirty three gasification plants are located in the United States (See Existing Gasification Plants in the U.S). Currently, China has the largest number of gasification plants.
Gasification by Location
The regional distribution of gasification has changed significantly in the last four years. Gasification plants had been fairly evenly distributed between Asia /Australia, Africa/Middle East and North America. The gasification capacity (both operational and under construction) in the Asia/Australia region now exceeds the rest of the world put together. (See State of the Gasification Industry-The Updated Gasification Database Paper) The prime movers behind this current and expected growth are the chemical, fertilizer, and coal-to-liquids industries in Asia (primarily China, India, South Korea, Malaysia, and Japan.) This is followed by South Africa and Qatar. (See Map Showing Location of Operating Gasification Plants)
Gasification by Application
Gasification for chemicals has been, and will remain, the most important gasification application for the foreseeable future. A recent study conducted by Higman and Tam determined that about 25% of the world’s ammonia and over 30% of the world’s methanol are now being produced via gasification (as compared to 10 % in each case ten years ago).
Gasification for liquid and gaseous fuels is becoming increasingly important. While the demand for transportation fuels (particularly gasoline) has declined in the United States, the demand has been increasingly sharply in other parts of the world, primarily Asia.
Gasification for substitute natural gas has also shifted to Asia. The abundant supply of cheaper natural gas in the United States has been a game changer; with little interest in any type of coal project (gasification or otherwise) or the production of “substitute” natural gas. In contrast, the natural gas (in the form of Liquefied Natural Gas or LNG) is extremely expensive in Asia and Africa. The high cost of importing LNG and the concerns about energy security haves prompted a number of new plants under construction in Asia.
Gasification by Feedstock
Coal is now the dominant feedstock and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. There are still gasification plants using oil as a feedstock, but that number has dropped considerably as the price of crude oil has increased. The figure for gas feedstock plants consists largely two “gas to liquids or GTL” plants-Bintulu and Pearl. While biomass and waste feed is currently very small, this feedstock category is expected to grow in the future.
Gasification Market Trends
Gasification projects are becoming both larger and smaller. The large industrial coal and petroleum coke gasification projects (for chemicals, hydrogen, power) are getting bigger. Generally, these projects are in Asia and the Middle East. While the size the gasifier is generally not increasing in size, the number of gasifiers used in a project is increasing. These larger gasification projects necessitate the scale-up of the equipment necessary to help run the gasifiers, such as the air separation units. (See Top 20 Commercial Gasification Projects by Size)
At the same time, demand for smaller, modular gasifiers for biomass and waste gasification is increasing. Generally, gasification of biomass and municipal solid waste does not require the larger gasifiers that are used in industrial applications. Many interested in biomass and MSW gasification want a gasifier that is just big enough to handle the MSW of a particular city. Modular gasifiers and under development that would enable the unit to be moved where the demand exists, such as in rural areas of developing countries or temporary military bases.
The Future of Gasification
Worldwide gasification capacity is expected to grow significantly by 2018, with the primary growth occurring in Asia (primarily China, India, South Korea, and Mongolia).