Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Department of


First Advisor

Yaşar Demirel

Date of this Version



Wang XM. Sustainable Clean Coal Technology with Power and Methanol Production. 2017.


A THESIS Submitted to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Chemical Engineering, Under the Supervision of Professor Yasar Demirel. Lincoln, Nebraska: December 2017

Copyright (c) 2017 Xiaomeng Wang


The coal-based chemical process is still indispensable in modern society due to the worldwide vast reserves and popular price of coal. Power generation and chemical production from coal still play an important role in the global chemical industrial market. Electricity generation and chemical production from coal is still the trend as long as the coal is plentiful and inexpensive. Modern chemical industry aims at sustainability and hence the development of clean coal technologies is critical.

Coal-based methanol economy, as an attractive liquid transportation fuel as well as an essential intermediate chemical feedstock, can fill a possible gap between declining fossil fuel supplies and movement toward the hydrogen economy. The integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant with methanol production is simulated by Aspen Plus. Within the plant, firstly, the coal is fed to a pyrolysis reactor, and the volatile matter is fed into an oxy-combustion reactor, while the char is gasified in an entrained flow gasifier. The heat is used to produce electricity, while the syngas is converted to methanol. The integral plant consisting of an air separation unit, oxy-combustion of coal, gasification of char, electric power production, carbon capture and conversion to methanol has been designed and optimized by using the Aspen Plus package. The optimization includes the design specification, process heat integration using energy analyzer toward a more efficient clean-coal technology with methanol production. Multiple methods including life cycle assessment, sustainability metrics, and multi-criteria decision matrices are applied to analyze the sustainability of a certain clean-coal based IGCC power plant with methanol production.

The focus of this study is the kinetic study of a clean coal energy technology with power and methanol production. As an alternative method, chemical looping technology is discussed briefly. Chemical looping technology is a new method utilizing inherent CO2 capture to address the concerns of growing levels of atmospheric CO2. The studied IGCC plant is compared with a conventional IGCC power plant to better understand the feasibility of the technology. A multi-criteria decision matrix consisting of economic indicators as well as the sustainability metrics shows that methanol and steam productions besides the power production may improve the overall feasibility of clean coal technology.

The goal of this work aims at developing the use of abundant resources of coal energy in the following aspects: energy security, reduction of Greenhouse Gas emission, co-production and kinetics study in coal-based chemical processes and sustainability analysis.

Advisor: Yaşar Demirel