North Dakota commission okays funding for two lignite research projects

Basin Electric Power Cooperative said Dec. 18 that the North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC) at its Dec. 17 meeting approved funding for two innovative lignite research projects.

Basin Electric, the Energy & Environmental Research Center8 Rivers and ALLETE Inc. (along with ALLETE subsidiaries BNI Coal and Minnesota Power) were granted $1.48 million toward the total $3.18 million one-year research project to further development of the Allam Cycle technology and utilization system for lignite coal.

“The support from the state of North Dakota is crucial as they continue to partner with industry to find solutions to environmental regulations that enable the continued utilization of lignite coal,” said Jim Sheldon, Basin Electric senior research and development engineer.

The vision for the Allam Cycle, invented by 8 Rivers, consists of gasifying lignite to produce synthetic natural gas, which would then be used along with oxygen and carbon dioxide to drive a turbine generator. This working fluid is then cooled through a heat exchanger and water is separated from it to create a nearly-pure CO2 stream. The CO2 stream is pressurized and a majority of the flow is fed back to the combustor as the working fluid to begin the cycle again. The remaining part of the CO2 flow is collected and put into a pipeline without increasing the power plant’s cost of producing electricity.

The technology could provide Dakota Gasification Co. another source of marketable CO2 to be used for enhanced oil recovery or other purposes, and provide Basin Electric a more efficient and CO2 emission-free way of generating electricity using lignite.

The NDIC also approved more than $200,000 for “LP Amina BenePlus,” a three-to-six month project directed by LP Amina near Beulah, N.D. The work includes performing an economic study of the beneficiated coal and related liquid byproducts while also further developing the proprietary catalytic process on lignite coal. An engineering study will also be completed to determine the modifications required to use this higher grade coal in existing lignite-based power plant boilers. Basin Electric, North American Coal, Tesoro and LP Amina will provide matching funds and in-kind contributions.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.