MN Dastur & Co, a technology and engineering firm, is looking to facilitate the setting up of large-scale coal gasification clusters in India to produce emission-free clean energy from high ash coal which can be utilised by the downstream industries.
Large scale gasification projects would also help bring down imports.
Coal gasification basically involves taking low quality coal from mines and processing that into emission-free fuels and feedstocks at a very large scale. The gas produced can be utilised by downstream industries such as a methanol plants, and petrochemical, steel or urea plants.
According to Atanu Mukherjee, President and Chief Executive Officer, MN Dastur, the new coal policy encouraging commercial mining is set to give a fillip to setting up of large-scale gasification projects. The company is in talks with various government and private agencies for providing consulting, technical and engineering support.
“We envision ourselves as the designers of such projects and can help public and private players to identify the coal blocks; setting up the design and strategy for the entire gasification plant and look at downstream opportunities among others. We can help bring in the technology along with the partners we have been working with. We can also play a role in enabling investments through FDI,” Mukherjee told BusinessLine .
Dastur International Inc. along with two of its affiliates — Dastur Energy and MN Dastur & Co — and LummusTechnology were recently awarded a USTDA-funded study to evaluate the feasibility of petcoke gasification at the 15.5-mtpa Kochi refinery of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (BPCL).
Dastur will be the prime contractor for the project. The study will evaluate various options to arrive at the most appropriate and economically viable project blueprint, and technology architecture for the gasification of petcoke and would also look to enable the production of value-added petrochemical products and clean fuels like hydrogen in a cost-competitive and sustainable manner.
The BPCL project will give Dastur the impetus to facilitate setting up of more such gasification projects in India. The company has already been associated in a similar very large scale gasification project for Middle East-based company ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company) and has been working on building the technology and expertise for gasification projects.
“Gasification projects have to be large scale, as small scale will not work because there is substantial capital cost involved. The gas coming out of petcoke and coal has to be utilised by large consuming industries. BPCL will certainly help shape a lot of things and will be a reality check,” he said.
According to Mukherjee, such large-scale gasification projects would help reduce imports by nearly $25-30 billion.
Commercial coal mining
The Centre’s commercial coal mining policy is expected to give a fillip to setting up of coal gasification projects in India.
“One of the key things for coal gasification is to have the flexibility of sourcing coal from where you want and also getting coal of a certain quality and consistency and the cost structures which support the gasification. So for that it is important that there is no end use restriction.
“Secondly, for gasification of coal, it is important that the composition of the coal is consistent and that can only happen through a captive mine. If one has to procure coal through e-auctions and other sources then consistency cannot be ensured. If that happens, then the operational and commercial viability of the project can be compromised. These are two things that the commercial coal mining allows, which would facilitate setting up large scale gasification clusters,” he pointed out.