Southern marks first syngas production at Kemper County IGCC

Southern Co. (NYSE: SO) announced July 15 that subsidiary Mississippi Power has started producing syngas using lignite at the Kemper County energy facility, which Southern said is the most significant milestone at the plant to date.

The successful production of syngas demonstrates the viability of the Transport Integrated Gasification (TRIG) technology, which is being used for the first time at commercial scale at the state-of-the-art facility, and will be combined with the other major systems to eventually produce power.

“This is a major achievement for the Kemper project, and I am very proud of everyone who has worked safely and tirelessly to overcome challenges and reach this important point,” said Mississippi Power President and CEO Anthony Wilson. “Producing syngas from Mississippi’s own abundant natural resource – lignite – should be encouraging to our customers, communities and energy companies around the world. This proves that Kemper’s technology can provide a way forward for coal and puts us a step closer to full plant operation.”   

An integral aspect of the plant’s operations, syngas is created when locally mined lignite is heated at high temperatures in the plant’s gasifiers, converting the coal to gas. The plant is designed to vurn syngas similarly to natural gas to power a turbine. The facility is designed to capture at least 65% of carbon dioxide, with resulting emissions better than a similarly-sized natural gas plant. The lignite is produced by a contractor affiliated with North American Coal, a major lignite producer at various mines in the U.S.

The TRIG coal gasification technology deployed at the plant was jointly developed by Southern Co., KBR and the U.S. Department of Energy over the past two decades at the Power Systems Development Facility, an Alabama-based research facility operated by Southern Co.

The successful production of syngas is an important step in the systematic process of achieving the facility’s full commercial operation. During the coming weeks, the Kemper project team also will be focused on starting up and integrating various systems needed to achieve the next major milestone – using syngas to produce electricity at the plant.

When fully operational, the plant is designed to not only generate electricity, but also to capture marketable products from the syngas like carbon dioxide, which is expected to be used for enhanced oil recovery – a process through which CO2 is safely and permanently injected into the ground to extract the fuel from depleted oil fields.

This is a 582-MW integrated gasification combined cycle plant located in Kemper County, Miss., about 20 miles north of Meridian, Miss. It is designed to use approximately 4.7 million tons of lignite per year.

Mississippi Power produces energy for more than 186,000 customers in 23 southeast Mississippi counties.

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.