In news– Recently, BHEL built India’s first Indigenously Designed High Ash Coal Gasification Based Methanol Production Plant at its R&D Centre, Hyderabad.
Need for such plant
- The majority of worldwide methanol production is derived from natural gas, which is a relatively easy process.
- Since India doesn’t have much of the natural gas reserves, producing methanol from imported natural gas lead to outflow of foreign exchange and sometimes uneconomical due to excessive prices of natural gas.
- The next best option is to utilise India’s abundant coal.
- However, due to the high ash percentage of Indian coal, most internationally accessible technology will not be adequate for our demands.
BHEL’s coal gasification project
- To address the issue mentioned above, BHEL R&D centre at Hyderabad began working on Indian high ash coal gasification in 2016 with support from the NITI Aayog to produce 0.25 ton per day methanol.
- The project was supported by the Department of Science and Technology with a Rs 10 crore grant.
- With four years of hard work BHEL successfully demonstrated a facility to create 0.25 TPD Methanol from high ash Indian coal using a 1.2 TPD Fluidized bed gasifier.
- The methanol purity of the crude methanol produced is between 98 and 99.5 percent.
- This in-house capability will assist India’s Coal Gasification Mission and Coal to Hydrogen Production for Hydrogen Mission.
What is Coal Gasification?
- Coal gasification is the process of converting coal into synthesis gas (also called syngas), which is a mixture of hydrogen (H2), carbon monoxide (CO), natural gas (CH4), water vapour (H2O) . and carbon dioxide (CO2)—from coal and water, air and/or oxygen.
- The syngas can be used in a variety of applications such as in the production of electricity and making chemical products, such as fertilisers.
- Historically, coal was gasified to produce coal gas, also known as “town gas”. Coal gas is combustible and was used for heating and municipal lighting, before the advent of large-scale extraction of natural gas from oil wells.
- In current practice, large-scale coal gasification installations are primarily for electricity generation, or for production of chemical feedstocks.
- The hydrogen obtained from coal gasification can be used for various purposes such as making ammonia, powering a hydrogen economy, or upgrading fossil fuels.
- Methanol is utilized as a motor fuel, to power ship engines, and to generate clean power all over the world.
- Methanol is also used to generate di-methyl ether (DME), a liquid fuel that is very similar to diesel; existing diesel engines simply need to be minimally changed to use DME instead of diesel.