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$1.1B Huineng SNG plant goes on-stream transforming coal into natural gas in China

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Haldor Topsoe A/S announced that Huineng, a large-scale SNG (Substitute Natural Gas) plant, went successfully on-stream near the city of Ordos, located in Inner Mongolia in the northern part of China. Topsoe has designed the methanation section of this plant, which is the company’s second large-scale coal-based industrial SNG reference to begin operations in China following last years’ opening of Qinghua, the world’s largest SNG plant located in the Xinjiang region.

The Huineng SNG plant is owned and operated by the private Chinese company Huineng Coal Electricity Group and represents an investment of US$1.1 billion. The plant will have an annual output of approximately 400 million normal cubic meters of SNG based on coal gasification.

SNG derived from coal is a direct replacement for natural gas that can be used on-site, fed into a natural gas pipeline or liquefied into LNG. The SNG produced at Huineng will be liquefied into LNG and annually the facility expects to reach a total production of 280,000 tons. This commodity will be transported to gas stations in Ordos and the area surrounding the city. An agreement with Xingtai in the province of Heibei has been signed that will allow Huineng to supply LNG to run local buses in the city.

In China, coal is an abundant resource and SNG makes it possible to transform large reserves in remote, mountainous areas into a clean energy source that can be transported to densely populated areas and help reduce air pollution.

The Huineng plant uses Topsoe catalysts and TREMP methanation technology which makes it possible to produce SNG from synthesis gas derived from coal in an efficient and cost-effective way. In the methanation process carbon oxides react with hydrogen to form methane—i.e. SNG. Since the methanation process is highly exothermic an efficient heat recovery scheme is key to maintain an attractive plant economy.

TREMP is based on Topsoe’s high activity MCR catalyst portfolio. The technology ensures an efficient heat recovery. Combined with a low recycle ratio and reduced gas flow this leads to significant energy savings, lower equipment cost and overall improved plant efficiency, says Per Bakkerud, Group Vice President in Topsoe’s Chemical Business Unit.

As part of the Huineng methanation unit, Topsoe has designed a hot steam superheater which allows steam production at a temperature of 530 degrees. This steam is used to generate electricity significantly improving the overall energy efficiency of the entire plant complex.

Topsoe initiated research and development in the SNG field in the late 70s and the knowledge gained over the years has been used to refine the company’s technology platform.