North Dakota commission commits funding for lignite gasification research

The North Dakota Industrial Commission has approved a grant request of $3.5 million to continue research on the Allam Cycle at its meeting on May 23 in Bismarck, N.D.

The decision followed a unanimous May 19 recommendation by the Lignite Research Council to fund the grant request, noted Basin Electric Power Cooperative in a May 24 statement. The request was made by: the Energy & Environmental Research Center; Basin Electric; 8 Rivers Capital; and ALLETE Inc., along with ALLETE subsidiaries BNI Coal and Minnesota Power. Basin Electric and ALLETE have each committed to contributing matching funds and in-kind services supporting the work.

The Industrial Commission had approved $1.48 million in funding for the project in 2015.

The vision for the Allam Cycle consists of gasifying lignite coal to produce synthetic natural gas, which would then be used along with oxygen and CO2 to drive a turbine generator. The technology could provide Basin Electric’s Dakota Gasification Co., which has an existing lignite gasification plant in North Dakota, 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.

A first-of-its-kind plant using natural gas will start up in Texas in 2017, along with a more in-depth study using lignite to make synthetic natural gas in North Dakota. Basin Electric will monitor the technology’s development and participate in the North Dakota study.

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.