Even as it assumes the mantle of world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases and world’s largest consumer of energy, China is taking early steps to integrate “clean coal” technologies into its energy production mix.

Bixby Energy Systems, a Ramsey, Minn.-based company coming to be known for a new coal-to-gas technology, recently signed contracts to install its synthesizers in several locations throughout China and shipped its first unit to the country on Sept. 10. In July, the China Metallurgical Group, a state-owned company involved in engineering, procurement and construction announced an agreement with Global Partners United to build coal-to-gas facilities throughout the country. GPU is strategic partner, sales agent and licensee for Bixby in China. Bixby will provide a team of engineers to help install its systems, five contracts for which have been signed and include a glass-coking factory in Changzhi in Shanxi province and four that will go to Inner Mongolia province and include a methane-production plant, a state-owned heating company and two separate chemical factories.

Robert A. Walker, founder and CEO of Bixby, says the company is expected to earn $25 million in revenue in 2010 from leasing equipment in China – its first customer nation. The company says many companies and countries have visited its demonstration plant, and that it is negotiating with numerous potential customers.

Bixby Energy uses a process to convert coal into synthetic natural gas, cutting carbon-dioxide emissions by up to 65% below the level from burning coal, says the company.

The process superheats coal in a closed-loop environment to produce synthetic natural gas that can be used for boiler fuel or energy to spin the turbines at electrical generating stations. No carbon emissions are released into the air, the company says. The system separates the coal into syngas and semi-activated carbon that has commercial value.

The Bixby modules are 15 ft long, 10 ft wide and 50 ft high. Each can process 192 tons of coal a day and create enough gas to produce about 6.25 MW. Each module has been estimated by outside analysts to cost $4 million, though the company will not release that information. Bixby expects to receive its patent within the coming year, Walker says.

Coal-to-gas technologies can provide a bridge to cleaner coal until carbon capture and storage plants are commercial. According to John Shi, CEO of Arreon Carbon, “to reduce GHG emissions, coal-to-gas is an important component. Maybe technologies like solar and wind, these can compete on a commercial scale, be cheaper then coal; but that is like a decade away, so in the meanwhile we have to deal with coal.”

“The Future of Coal,” a study published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2003, predicted that the first full-scale commercial carbon capture and storage plant wouldn’t come on-stream until 2030.

China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, which generates 70% of the nation’s electricity. With 114.5 billion short tons of recoverable coal reserves (the world’s third largest after the U.S. and Russia, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration) China is coal self-sufficient. China has little natural gas and has said it is committed to approaching natural resource independence, so clean coal technologies have caught the attention of the Communist Party there.

Walker sees China’s reliance on coal as a “win-win” opportunity. “They have one of the world’s largest coal supplies,” he said. “With that and our technology, they have domestic gas independence.”

He also points to a strong commitment to clean technology in China, where politicians and businesspeople “are anxious to be proactive about it.”

Arreon Carbon’s Shi urges this is “a very important field with quite a bit of activityŠthere’s a lot of interest out there and Chinese companies recognize the importance of this technology.” However, as Chinese companies already know a lot, and arguably have better technology than U.S. companies, “finding a good match [for a joint venture]­that’s the challenge.”

GPU said several months ago that it has a letter of intent for 100 systems after completion of Bixby’s demonstration plant in Shaanxi.

Originally published in the October 6, 2010 issue of the Engineering News-Record.

Articles by Category
  • Advertising
  • Agriculture (Sustainable)
  • Architecture
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Beaches
  • Beijing
  • Book Reviews
  • Brazil
  • Business
  • Cars
  • China
  • China's Commodity Craving
  • Chinese Communist Party
  • Chinese Consumption
  • Cleantech
  • Commodities
  • Communication Technology
  • Copenhagen
  • Croatia
  • Emerging Markets
  • Energy
  • England
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Environment
  • Fashion
  • Film
  • Food
  • Green Food
  • Hong Kong
  • Innovation
  • International Relations
  • Israel
  • Literature
  • Munich
  • Music
  • New Media
  • New York City
  • News
  • Olympic Games 2008
  • Olympic Games 2016
  • Project Management
  • Railways
  • Real Estate
  • Recipes
  • Restaurants
  • Shanghai
  • Singapore
  • Ski
  • Taipei
  • Taiwan
  • Tea
  • Tech Transfer
  • Timor-Leste
  • Travel
  • Vegetarian Cuisine
  • Wind Energy
  • Wine
  • World Cup 2014
  • Yunnan
  • Articles by Date
  • July 2013
  • June 2013
  • May 2013
  • April 2013
  • March 2013
  • December 2012
  • November 2012
  • October 2012
  • September 2012
  • August 2012
  • July 2012
  • June 2012
  • May 2012
  • April 2012
  • March 2012
  • February 2012
  • January 2012
  • December 2011
  • November 2011
  • October 2011
  • September 2011
  • August 2011
  • July 2011
  • June 2011
  • May 2011
  • April 2011
  • March 2011
  • February 2011
  • January 2011
  • December 2010
  • November 2010
  • October 2010
  • September 2010
  • August 2010
  • July 2010
  • June 2010
  • May 2010
  • April 2010
  • March 2010
  • February 2010
  • January 2010
  • December 2009
  • November 2009
  • October 2009
  • September 2009
  • August 2009
  • July 2009
  • June 2009
  • May 2009
  • April 2009
  • March 2009
  • February 2009
  • January 2009
  • December 2008
  • November 2008
  • October 2008
  • September 2008
  • August 2008
  • July 2008
  • June 2008
  • May 2008
  • April 2008
  • March 2008
  • January 2008
  • December 2007
  • November 2007
  • September 2007
  • June 2007
  • October 2006
  • Articles by Publication
  • Ad Age
  • Appetite
  • Asia Business Traveller
  • Australian
  • Budget Travel
  • Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR)
  • Changi Class
  • China Daily
  • City Weekend Beijing
  • City Weekend Shanghai
  • ClimateWire
  • Condé Nast Traveler
  • EnergyWire
  • Engineering News-Record
  • Escape!
  • F&T
  • Gridskipper.com
  • Hollywood Reporter
  • Israel Strategist
  • Jewish Energy Guide
  • Junior Scholastic
  • Millionaire Asia
  • Monocle
  • New York Times
  • Newsweek
  • PM Network
  • PresenTense
  • QI Post
  • ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America
  • Slate.com
  • STAIR: St. Antony's International Review
  • Tablet Talk
  • Time Out Beijing
  • Time Out Israel
  • Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia
  • TTG Asia
  • Verve: Eva Air's in-flight
  • ZesterDaily
  • Copyright 2009 Manuela Zoninsein. All rights reserved. Design by Yah - Powered by WP - Login