Issue Date: August 4, 2008
Coal-to-methanol plant set for West Virginia
Consol Energy, the largest U.S. producer of bituminous coal, is working with Synthesis Energy Systems to build an $800 million facility that will convert coal into methanol. The plant will be located near Benwood, W.Va., at the mouth of a nearby Consol mine. It will gasify coal into a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen using SES’s U-Gas technology and then into about 720,000 metric tons per year of methanol. According to the partners, the methanol will be used by the chemical industry and also be converted into about 100 million gal per year of gasoline with technology they plan to license from ExxonMobil Research & Engineering. “This project has the potential to transform West Virginia from a major coal-producing state to a national energy center,” Consol CEO J. Brett Harvey says. The partners are also working with Aker Solutions on sequestering carbon dioxide emissions in a deep saline aquifer. Today, the main U.S. practitioner of coal-to-liquids technology is Eastman Chemical, which converts coal to acetyl chemicals in Kingsport, Tenn. Eastman is planning a $1.6 billion coal-to-chemicals project in Beaumont, Texas.
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