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Status - Coal ot NH3 Disclosure Number: IPCOM000221725D
Publication Date: 2012-Sep-15

Publishing Venue

The Prior Art Database

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Pullman Kellogg

Division of Pullman Incorporated


L.J. Buividas

A Division of Pullman, Inc.

Houston, Texas

 AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF CHEMICAL ENGINEERS Safety in Ammonia Plants & Related Facilities


 Portland, Oregon 17-20 August, 1980

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Pullman Kellogg



    During the TVA Symposium on Ammonia from Coal(1), the utilization of coal as the feedstock for ammonia was greatly emphasized. The potential of coal was forecasted to be competitive by 1985 and by 1990 coal-based ammonia would be king. As we all are aware, so far the only coal-based ammonia project in the United States is the TVA sponsored facility at Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and this project is only a front-end retrofit for the small existing 225 tons per day ammonia plant(2).

    The purpose o7 this .paper is not to predict how or when coal will become king, but to give an insight on the present day status as related to the production of ammonia.


    There are over I00 ammonia plants in the U.S. having the capability of producing over 20 million tons of ammonia per year(3) which consume over 700 billion SCF per year of equivalent natural gas. The ammonia industry relies heavily on natural gas as the feedstock and fuel. With the possibility that natural gas will become unavailable or uneconomic,
other alternative feedstocks must be explored.

    One candidate for supplementing our diminishing gas supplies is coal. The total coal reserves of ~he United States are estimated to be over 1,500 billion tons(4)(5)(6). These reserves include an~acite, bituminous

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sub-bituminous plus lignite. The locations of the coal deposits are shown

the attached ~ystone's map(7) of the Coal Fields .of the United States. The coal d osits beneath the U.S. - over 430 billion tons are considered mineable - make up one-fourth the known reserves in the world and have five times the energy values of the domestic "recoverable" oil and gas(8).



     The conversion of coal to useful gases is not a novelty and the history of which had both surges of interest and abandonment. During 1670~ John Clayton is reported to have produced a gas by heating coal within a laboratory retort. Over a century later, a W. Murdoch illuminated his home with coal-derived gas during 1792. The first coal gas company was chartered in London during 1812 and lights were installed at the London Bridge. In the United States, the first coal gas company was started at Baltimore, Maryland during 1816.

    Figure 2 portrays the rise and fall of the coal gasification industry in the United States(9). More than II,000 gas producers were in operation during 1926, gasifying about 15 million tons of coal per year. By 1948, only 4,000 units gasifying 4 million tons per year were in operation. Today, only a few coal gas producers exist, and most of these have been mothballed. Although the advent of natural gas in the 1940's and early 195...