China coal-to-liquid plant will use algae-based CO2 capture

By Luke Geiver | October 19, 2011

A partnership in China that will bring together a Houston-based coal-to-liquids company and a major Chinese coal and construction firm will utilize a CO2 capture system powered by algae. Accelergy Corp. will provide the Yankuang Group with its trademarked TerraSync terrestrial sequestration system to capture carbon from the future facility in Erdos, an area in China’s Inner Mongolia Province. Along with the TerraSync system, Accelergy will also create a hybrid configuration of a microcatalytic coal liquefaction system in conjunction with a Fischer Tropsch system provided by Yankuang.

The algae-based carbon system captures the CO2 produced from the CTL process and then passes the carbon to a series of photobioreactors that grow concentrated algae strains sourced from the region. When the algae growth cycle is complete, the algae is harvested and blended with other additives (proprietary) and used as a fertilizer. Accelergy states that for every ton of CO2 removed in the TerraSync process, many more tons are removed from the atmosphere due to the initial capture and use of the gas.

The early plan for production at the CTL plant in China will equal roughly 68,000 barrels per day, and the fuel will be used to fuel local fleets. Although the plant will be a first for Accelergy, the technology has already been put to the test at a pilot facility in China, located at the Bejing Research Institute for Coal Chemistry, the only testing facility, according to Accelergy, that can certify coals for Accelergy’s large-scale CTL projects.

“We aim to increase coal utilization efficiency, reduce CO2 emissions and add to the development of an integrated circular economy,” said Zhang Minglin, vice general manager of Yankuang Group. “This is in line with China’s high-tech coal chemical development trend, and complies with China’s energy saving and environmental protection policies as well.”

As the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, those goals seem important to China and Accelergy points out that output of coal-to-liquids is expected to jump from 1.5 million tons in 2010 to 30 million tons in 2020. “As China’s economy continues to grow, so does the demand for high-quality synthetic fuels needed to power its fleets,” said Timothy Vail, CEO of Accelergy. “Our partnership with Yankuang will provide domestically sourced fuels with a low-carbon footprint to meet this market need.”

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