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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Making natural gas cheap

Australian natural gas consumers concerned about natural gas prices set to soar to $9 per gigajoule need to look carefully at the following table.

Replace Natural Gas at $9 per GJ with SNG at $3 to $4 per GJ

The table here shows the results of converting any solid fuel (coal, crop residue, waste plastic, etc ...) with an energy content of 25 gigajoules per tonne into synthetic natural gas ("SNG") with a conversion efficiency of 80 percent. That is, converting each 100 gigajoules of solid fuel into 80 gigajoules of natural gas.

Coal or Biomass
(per tonne)
Energy Cost
(per gigajoule)
Natural Gas Cost*
(per gigajoule)
$40 $1.60 $2.00
$60 $2.40 $3.00
$80 $3.20 $4.00
$100 $4.00 $5.00
* Natural gas produced from coal with 80 percent conversion efficiency

"Gasification has been reliably used on a commercial scale for more than 75 years..." - Read more at the Gasification Technologies Council website.

"... Countries have been building coal gasification plants for years. ..." - Read more at the World Coal Association website.

See for example - Synthesis Energy Systems' website -

SES is the provider of a highly efficient, cost effective, and commercially proven coal and biomass conversion technology based on the U-GAS® gasification technology that was developed over the last 40 years. The U-GAS® process was the result of a Department of Energy (DOE) and Gas Technology Institute (GTI) joint development program that began in the early 1970s to convert coal into synthetic natural gas during the first US energy crisis. The U-GAS® gasification technology was piloted, demonstrated, and commercially operated on a wide range of feedstocks including bituminous coal, sub-bituminous coal, lignite, biomass, coal char and wastes, and metallurgical coke. Since SES has begun to commercially deploy the U-GAS® technology, we have advanced the technology through modifications to improve conversion, efficiency, and cost competitiveness through an expanding intellectual property estate.  Our technology enables customers to realize higher project returns through greater fuel flexibility, higher efficiency, lower operating costs, and lower capital investment.

A single-stage, fluidized-bed gasification process
A single-stage, fluidized-bed gasification process

Our gasification process accomplishes four important functions: it decakes, devolatilizes and gasifies the feedstock, and if necessary, agglomerates and separates ash from the reacting coal or biomass. The syngas is then further processed for use in many applications such as power, synthetic natural gas ("SNG"), ...