In petroleum refining, gasification is a process used to convert petroleum coke into value added products. Gasification is a commercially used manufacturing process to convert carbon containing materials such as coal, petroleum coke, biomass, or waste into synthesis gas. This synthesis gas is burned to produce electricity or processed to manufacture chemicals, fertilizers, liquid fuel, substitute natural gas (SNG), or hydrogen. Gasification consists of five discrete processes: drying, pyrolysis, combustion, cracking, and reduction. Pyrolysis is the process of heating raw biomass in the absence of air. This breaks it down into charcoal and various tar gasses and liquids. Cracking is the process of breaking down of complex molecules such as tar into lighter gases by exposure to heat. This process is utilized in the production of clean gas, which is compatible with an internal combustion engine. Reduction is the process of removal of oxygen atoms from combustion products of hydrocarbon molecules.
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Gasification of petroleum coke provides certain advantages over other conventionally used combustion processes. It results in the production of fuel-rich gas instead of high temperature gas. The gasification process offers superior environmental performance. Most of the combustion processes using solid fuels produce solid residues such as slag and fly ash, which are hazardous in nature and have a contaminating effect on the environment. The heating value of petroleum coke is about 20% higher than that of conventionally used fuels such as coal. Coke also has low ash content compared to coal. These superior properties of petroleum coke over conventional fuels make gasification a useful process in the refining of petroleum. Gasification of petroleum coke is also an efficient and economic process, as petroleum coke is one of the low cost fossil fuels. Gasification of petroleum coke also offers refiners with a wide variety of products such as steam, hydrogen, electricity, chemicals, and liquid fuels. Rise in pressure to lower emission of pollutants and greenhouse gases is driving the usage of clean fuels. This is expected to boost the usage of the gasification process in petroleum coke refining. However, petroleum coke has certain drawbacks. Petroleum coke possesses high sulfur content, high vanadium content, and low reactivity.
Carbon dioxide is produced during gasification owing to the carbon content originally present in petroleum coke. Efforts are being made to capture and store this carbon dioxide, which is one of the gases contributing to the greenhouse effect.
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Based on application, the petroleum coke gasification market can be segmented into chemicals and fertilizers, power generation, substitute natural gas, and oil refining. Petroleum coke gasification produces chemicals such as ammonia and urea. These are the major constituents of nitrogen-based fertilizers. Synthesis gas is produced during the gasification of petroleum coke. This gas is used to produce electricity with the help of turbines. The byproducts of the petroleum coke gasification process can also be used as substitute natural gases. One of the major components of the synthesis gas produced during gasification of petroleum coke is hydrogen, which is used to remove impurities from gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel in order to produce clean fuels. The hydrogen and steam produced during petroleum coke gasification can be used to power oil refineries.
Based on the geography, the petroleum coke gasification market can be segmented into North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, and Rest of the World. The U.S. Government has imposed restrictions on the disposal of hazardous waste being generated by the combustion of conventional fuels such as coal. This is expected to augment the petroleum coke gasification market in North America during the forecast period.
Key players operating in the petroleum coke gasification market include General Electric (GE) Corporation, Royal Dutch Shell, Air Liquide, RWE Group, Siemens, CB&I, KBR Technology, and Synthesis Energy Systems Inc.