Repurposed: Coal Gasification Plant Will Be Used to Produce Fertilizer

Phibro—an independent commodity merchant company based in Stamford, Conn.—through its affiliate Philipp Brothers Fertilizer, recently announced that it is acquiring a clean coal gasification plant just outside of West Terre Haute, Ind., from SG Solutions. The plant had been used to produce synthetic gas and steam to fuel the adjacent Wabash River Combined Cycle Plant, but it will now be repurposed to produce ammonia fertilizer.

The gasification plant was a former U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) demonstration project for the Clean Coal Technology program. The plant was brought online in November 1995 to replace a conventional pulverized coal power plant at the site. The integrated gasification combined cycle technology utilized at the facility was said to be one of the most efficient and cleanest technologies available for coal-based electric power generation (Figure 1).

1. Coal gasification.
The E-GAS two-stage coal gasification technology featured at the plant used an oxygen-blown, entrained-flow, refractory-lined gasifier with continuous slag removal. Source: DOE

The plant’s design allows it to be repurposed as an ammonia production plant. Following conversion, the plant will use petroleum coke (petcoke) sourced from Midwest refineries as a feedstock to produce ammonia. Phibro says petcoke is more economical than natural gas, which is used by many other ammonia plants.

“We are thrilled to be able to put this plant’s technology, which has outlived its viability in an era of reduced coal fired power generation, to a more productive economic use, manufacturing much needed ammonia fertilizer for the region,” said Simon Greenshields, president and CEO of Phibro. “This transaction benefits numerous stakeholder groups as it will create and save manufacturing jobs, provide the most affordable fertilizer for farmers in the area and reduce our nation’s reliance on imported ammonia fertilizer.”

Phibro plans to invest approximately $450 million into the plant to convert it to produce ammonia and is targeting a mid-2018 completion date.

Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)

(Updated: An opinion expressed by the author was removed from the opening of this post on May 25.)

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