A Russian and a German scientist gave explanation why coal may become the driver of fuel and energy complex

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Фото © РусЭкспортУголь

Litvinenko and professor of Freiberg mining academy Berndt Meyer “Syngas Production: Status and Potential for Implementation in Russian Industry” published by Springer took place in St. Petersburg. The authors feel sure that conventional resources such as coal may become, based on the introduction of new technologies, the driver of economy growth due to formation of chains of product added value at the domestic level.. “Forpost” decided to find out if coal may be turned from “dirty” raw material into «clean” one and what action is necessary to undertake.

The public formed its negative attitude to coal long ago and it is not surprising. When coal is burnt emission release is 10 times greater compared to oil combustion. Natural gas against coal is reputed to be an absolutely ecologically clean fuel.

However, Russia is in possession of the second volume of coal reserves in the world – 157 billions of tons. These reserves are sufficient for 500 years .This means that it’s essential to develop technologies which will make it possible to make full use of this resources without damaging ecosystems. Even today it is possible to produce up to 130 chemical products and over 5 thousand products in related branches in the result of advanced processing of coal and treatment of technogenic waste where the major role is assigned to the process of gasification for producing synthesis gas. In such a case, impact on environment and human health gets near to a minimum.

“It is necessary to combine innovation and conventional raw material, - Berndt Meyer thinks,- I mean not only primary source but secondary as well. Millions of tons of waste and slime are produced in Russia. They are stored in landfills or burnt, but this is not suitable for the future. We are thinking of how effectively to get products of chemical industry from them. We think that oil or gas should not be burnt but ,otherwise they should be synthesized. Heat, power, ethylene, propylen, methanol, mineral fertilizers and many other products can be obtained from syngas".

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Андрей Кучеренко

Boom of development of gasification technologies in the West and China fell on the middle of the last decade , and was bind with surge in oil prices. However, their succeeding price declines decreased commercial attractiveness of gas generators, converting coal into gas. Now, the prime objective for scientists doing research in this field is to reduce capital costs for construction and maintenance of install-lations.

The key component of the research , done by Vladimir Litvinenko and Berndt Meyer, was estimation of competitiveness of a number of products manufactured due to introduction of advanced gasification technologies. For example, even today methanol production may be merchantable. Its price on the world markets is above 300 euro per one ton. Whereas the cost of full process chain, when it comes to advanced processing of low-ash , i.e. higher quality coal is 256 euro, and 279 euro for processing of high ash coal.

As for the perspective of producing synthetic liquid fuel from coal , here the authors’ estimation is not too optimistic. Theoretically, it is, of course, possible but the product cost is above the level of market prices. In this regard, now its production by means of small- scale gas generators is practicable only in hard-to-reach coaly regions.

“The prime force for progress is investment in technologies and not in resources. Future of the industry is connected to the creation of new high-tech products such as synthetic fuel, products of chemistry and agrochemistry. Coal gasification is a very promising direction, it will permit to form new jobs, enhance tax revenues due to chains of added value of the product domestically.”- says Vladimir Litvinenko.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Андрей Кучеренко

In Russia coal mining is on the rise and it is gradually getting closer to the rate existing in the Soviet Union. In1990 395 millions of tons of coal were mined in the Soviet Union and in 2016 about 380 million tons were mined in Russia. More than 40 % of coal is exported , with that the share of coal in energy balance of the country resulting from accelerated gasification of the regions is gradually declining and now constitutes about 10%. In future global demand for this resource will continue to grow, and Russia’s coal branch, which today is money making and manages without subsidies will continue its dynamic development. However, use of coal ,as the primary source (i.e. volume of coal combustion), will decrease. According to the opinion of many experts, growth of consumption will be facilitated by introduction of new technologies of coal gasification.

“For me it’s evident, that volumes of coal consumption in the world will not decline, says Anatoliy Yanovsky, Deputy Minister of Energy of Russian Federation. “This is connected to the growth of global population, and the necessity to provide humankind with raw material resources in the conditions of energy poverty. In developed economies demand for this resource will gradually decline, and in developing countries it will increase. In the result annual growth before 2040,will amount to about 0, 6 %, though coal share in the global fuel balance will slightly decline.”

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Not long ago it was considered that perspective of domestic coal industry will be defined, first of all, by the development of import, in the first place to China and particularly to India. Nowadays coal generation, precisely in India, is increasing at a quick rate as this fuel type is the cheapest and available resource which is able to meet the needs of the country in energy which grow at rapid-fire pace.

Scientific research done by Vladimir Litvinenko and Berndt Meyer bring out an alternative track of branch development. It is based on building high-tech coal processing plants. This will lead to increase of demand for coal and will create prerequisites for more dynamic development of the entire fuel-energy complex of the country on the whole. Taking into consideration that coal reserves in our subsurface resources surpass oil and gas reserves taken together, this may become a significant part of energy security supply of Russia for many years ahead.

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Фото © Форпост Северо-Запад / Андрей Кучеренко
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