Economics of Syn Gas Generation

The investment in the syn-gas generation unit accounts generally for more than half of the total investment for natural gas-based plants producing methanol. For plants using coal as a feedstock, this represents even more, generally 70-80% [183]. The remaining 20-50% accounts for the capital costs involved in the actual production of methanol. The price of methanol from coal is thus more dependent on the technology than the cost of the feedstock, which remains much cheaper and less fluctuating than natural gas, due to still large and easily accessible coal deposits to be found all around the globe. Despite the higher initial investment for the construction of a methanol plant, increasing natural gas prices created a new interest in the production of methanol from coal. Many plants in China are already using the still abundant and inexpensive coal sources to produce methanol. In the United States, only one plant - operated by the Eastman Corporation in Kingsport, Tennessee - presently produces methanol by coal gasification. The co-production of methanol and electricity in the same plant is also an attractive option.

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