Emerson Process Management, a business of Emerson, has formed a strategic relationship with Secure Energy, Inc. to help build a $800 million alternative energy plant in Decatur, Ill., the first coal gasification-to-synthetic natural gas plant to be constructed in the United States in two decades.
According to this strategic relationship, Emerson will serve as the main automation contractor (MAC), responsible for managing and digitally automating the Secure Energy plant that will convert 1.4 million tons/year of Illinois coal into 21 billion cubic feet of pipeline quality natural gas. The modular facility is a template for four additional clean coal plants that Secure Energy intends to construct in other parts of the United States. Emerson will establish automation and process control protocols that can be modified as necessary to create plants that are coal-to-diesel, coal-to-gasoline, coal-to-fertilizer or other clean coal processes.
Emerson has committed significant resources and expertise to help alternative energy companies translate their technologies into large-scale commercial production of eco-friendly fuels. In addition to Secure Energy, Emerson is working with nearly a dozen other alternative fuel companies.
Secure Energy will rely upon Emerson’s engineering expertise and digital automation technology to integrate the plant’s five process “islands” – air separation, gasification, CO shift/hydrolysis, acid gas removal, and methanation – within the clean coal plant.
“Emerson provides the glue to confidently engineer and start up this modular project,” said Jack Kenny, Secure Energy co-founder. “We have five major engineering firms delivering the various processes of our plant, so we need Emerson’s expertise to make sure all the process automation is correct and unified.”
Secure Energy chose Emerson as its main automation contractor (MAC) because of the company’s proven success in digitally automating coal gasification plants and multi-plant projects worldwide.
“We needed to minimize risk through consistent control and communication in the control room,” Kenny said. “Emerson’s experience with coal gasification in Canada and China made them a tremendous candidate for this strategic partnership.
”Our MAC relationship will help provide certainty and predictability during commercial pursuit and during the project phase,” commented Steve Sonnenberg, president of Emerson Process Management. “We will collaborate with Secure Energy and its other suppliers to realize lower project risk, better cost control, seamless integration of all control and safety packages, long-term maintenance and operational savings, and improved logistics and inventory management.”
Emerson will supply Secure Energy with its best-in-class product range and services that comprise PlantWeb® digital plant architecture, a leading global automation approach that networks intelligent field instruments and valves with systems and software to deliver efficient operations and predictive maintenance that maximizes plant availability.
Emerson will also support this strategic relationship with multiple Emerson technologies and expertise beyond process management, including U.S. Electrical Motors, Liebert products and RIDGID Tools.
The Secure Energy project is a response to the growing demand for energy independence in the United States and increased public concern about the environmental impact of coal as fuel. The U.S. has 29 percent of the world’s coal reserves. Coal gasification is one of the more environmentally friendly ways to utilize coal. The process also enables the CO2 produced to be captured and sequestered or used for other processes. Secure Energy plans to capture the CO2 produced at this plant.
Secure Energy is seeking a U.S. Department of Energy grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for carbon capture and sequestration facilities. Additional funding will be provided through private investors, including ARC Financial of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.