Coal Gasification

The world’s developing and rapidly industrializing nations are in constant need of new energy sources to fuel their growth. For China and India, this energy source has been primarily coal, which comes at a high price in terms of cost and environmental impact. For other developing regions such as Central Asia, Africa and parts of South America, there is more of a reliance on expensive oil, imported natural gas or LNG for their power generation needs. In the more remote regions of the world where there are no coal deposits or ready access to oil or natural gas, the lack of energy resources keeps many countries from realizing their full economic potential.

Besides access to energy sources, the other key variable for developing nations is the cost and scale of building power plants. Whether these are coal, natural gas or oil-fired, and even more so with production of cleaner energy through the gasification of biomass and other renewable wastes, the challenge is whether developing nations have the financial capability and expertise to take on these projects.

With these factors comes the issue of project scale requirements and whether plants can be built to meet the energy demands of a specific region. To date, these have been the key challenges facing developing nations whose more remote regions have been energy starved and unable to realize their economic growth potential.

For many developing nations, the power projects that they need for their socio-economic development require expertise and financial support beyond the capability of their governments to undertake, owing to their size, novelty and complexity. Indeed, the expertise and monetary resources must be imported.

Synthesis Energy Systems (SES) has been providing clean energy expertise and solutions to developing nations for some time. Based in Houston, SES is a clean energy technology company with a unique and proven technology for cleanly and economically converting the world’s abundant and inexpensive low quality coals, coal wastes and renewable biomass and bio-waste resources into valuable energy and chemical products.

SES has targeted markets in China and India which have a strong demand for clean, low-cost energy and chemicals such as methanol, transportation fuels, substitute natural gas, power and industrial syngas for direct reduced iron steel-making derived from local coal and biomass.

Recently, SES announced that it is marketing its advanced fluidized bed gasification technology for small-scale power generation plants along with small gas turbines designed to operate on low btu gaseous fuels. This distributed power generation solution can produce electricity from lower cost, advantaged fuels such as sub-bituminous and lignite coals and coal wastes, municipal solid wastes, agricultural wastes and other biomass waste materials.

Through the ability to gasify different waste materials, such as agricultural or municipal waste byproducts, into low-cost synthesis gas (syngas) and clean energy, SES has the potential to bring much needed energy to remote regions of Africa, South America, Central and Southern Asia. SES has the distinctive capability to convert these low-cost fuels into syngas in a cost-effective manner. The SES gasification technology can produce clean syngas from low cost fuels to generate reliable and cost-efficient power for smaller projects.

The SES small-scale power generation solution holds great promise for developing nations which may now be able to devise a master energy plan based on locally produced or available energy sources, such as municipal or agricultural waste products, to produce energy on a scale that will fit their economic needs.

Robert Rigdon  is president and CEO of Synthesis Energy Systems. For more information, visit

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