NEWS RELEASE                                                                                                    MARCH 2015

Coal-to-Liquids and Coal-to-Gas Creates a Big New Market for Sedimentation and Centrifugation Products

Despite the drop in oil prices, the programs to convert coal-to-liquids and coal-to-gases continues. Centrifuges, clarifiers, hydrocyclones and other sedimentation equipment will play a major role in both process separation and wastewater purification.

The largest program is in China where more than one billion tons of coal per year are slated for conversion. Other Asian countries are moving ahead with coal to chemicals plants.  The Ukraine has five plants underway to reduce dependence on Russian gas.

Direct coal liquefaction uses grinding, hydrogenation and separation. Centrifuges and clarifiers provide process separation.  Indirect liquefaction and coal to gas utilize gasification.  The big use of centrifuges and clarifiers are in water and wastewater treatment.

The economics and environmental impact of coal conversion can be greatly enhanced by rare earth recovery.  In the past, an outside source of acid to leach the rare earths has been needed. McIlvaine Company believes this expenditure can be avoided.

By using the chlorine in coal, the rare earths can be extracted in what the McIlvaine Company believes to be simply the marriage of two proven systems.


Making hydrochloric acid from coal is not a new idea. Using this technology for rare earth leaching is new.  The particulate and HCl emanating from the gasifer are captured in a venturi scrubber. This is already the scheme used for the GE gasifier. However, the proposed design recirculates acid to achieve a 30 percent dirty acid concentration.  A bleed stream with the flyash and acid is then sent to a tank for further leaching. A number of additional separation steps are then needed to produce the rare earths from the flyash. So this separation is another opportunity for centrifuge and clarifier suppliers.  For more on N005 Sedimentation and Centrifugation World Markets, click on:

NEWS RELEASE                                                                                                    MARCH 2015

Power Plants Need to Think Outside the Box in Dealing with Obsolescence

The semiconductor industry has been reinventing itself continually. Moore’s law predicted that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every year since the integrated circuit was invented and would continue to do so. The opposite is true for coal-fired boiler power plants in the U.S.  Most were built between 1950-1980 and are no more efficient now than when they were installed.  Whereas the Chinese assume an economic life for a coal-fired power plant of 25 years, the U.S. tends to act as if the economic life is 50 years or more.

Most of the blame for this lack of progress falls on the regulators but some is also due to the philosophy of the operators. They have not been able to think outside the box.  The focus has been on power generation rather than supply of useful products.   A common attitude is “we are not a chemical plant and do not want to be in the chemical business.”  The steam plumes emanating from cooling towers and stacks are a combination of wasted heat and water which could be used by co-generating partners.  Power plants should think outside the box and consider a product mix which includes:

  • Electricity
  • Steam
  • Chemicals
  • Building materials
  • Tipping fees for disposal of solid biomass waste from municipal and other sources.

Steam: There is an initiative to reduce coal-fired power plant CO2 emissions by 30 percent over the next several decades. This can be achieved by shutting down 30 percent of the capacity or it can be achieved through cogeneration.  Great Rivers Energy has demonstrated that by building the Blue Flint Ethanol plant on-site and through the new Spiritwood plant that it can achieve the 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gases for the combined power and cogeneration sources.

A new hot gas filtration technology produces clean gas at 850oF.  This will reduce parasitic energy for air pollution control and also allow efficient extraction of the heat in the flue gas. Industrial power plants have embraced this new technology but the power industry has not.

Chemicals: Last week McIlvaine observed that two technologies (leaching rare earths from flyash with hydrochloric acid and two-stage scrubbing producing hydrochloric acid and gypsum) can be combined to supply a very economical route for the U.S. to be self-sufficient in rare earth production. Other options include fertilizers such as ammonium sulfate and various forms of sulfur.

Powders:  Many power plants already produce gypsum used in wallboards. However, there are products with higher revenue potential. Finely, ground pure gypsum can replace precipitated calcium carbonate for paper coatings in magazines and other glossy publications.  Rather than produce gypsum, power plants can produce a chemically fixed landfill product which encapsulates toxics and reduces expenditures for wastewater treatment.

Solid waste tipping fees:  New combustion techniques to gasify municipal solid waste offer a way for utilities to generate revenues from tipping fees, reduce coal consumption and reduce NOx by introducing the gasified waste as a reburn fuel above the primary firing zone.  Since air pollution systems on coal-fired power plants must already remove air toxics, there would not be any additional pollution control capital expense.

McIlvaine is presenting these options with a series of initiatives including:

Market reports: FGD World Markets,Utility Mercury Air Reduction Markets, Fossil & Nuclear Power Generation: World Analysis & Forecastand Fabric Filter World Markets

NEWS RELEASE                                                                                        FEBRUARY 2015

New Approach for Decision Making in Environment and Energy

After four decades of selling knowledge systems to operators of power plants and others with environmental challenges, the McIlvaine Company is now offering these systems at no charge to the end users around the world.

There are two comprehensive systems:

Power Plant Systems and Components

Gas Turbine and Combined Cycle Decisions

There are also five technology based systems:

1ABC Fabric Filter

2ABC Scrubber/Adsorber/Biofilter Knowledge Systems

3ABC FGD and DeNOx Knowledge Systems

4ABC Electrostatic Precipitator Knowledge Systems

9ABC Air Pollution Monitoring and Sampling Knowledge Systems

The normal fees will be waived for owners and operators. The services include newsletters, free webinars and deep analysis of alternatives and other ways to provide the 4As:  Alerts, Answers and Advancement.

For more information contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

NEWS RELEASE                                                                                        FEBRUARY 2015

Major Shifts in the Market for Thermal Treatment of Stack Gases

The technology, the locations and the applications for thermal treatment of stack gases are changing at a faster rate today than they were a decade ago.  The present world market for regenerative thermal oxidizers, catalytic oxidizers and conventional thermal treatment is $2 billion.  This does not include flares which add an additional $0.4 billion.  It does not include NOx reduction which is addressed in a separate McIlvaine report.

The overall growth rate for the industry will be less than 5 percent, but the market in some industries and some locations will grow at double-digit rates.  Some new technology also promises to capture significant portions of the market.  These are the conclusions reached by the McIlvaine Company in Thermal Catalytic World Air Pollution Markets.

Unconventional oil and gas extraction is a changing application.  There are new sources of emissions and new restrictions on existing sources.  Stranded sources have traditionally emitted methane without treatment.  Flaring of those gases is now required in many countries. The U.S. has gone a step further and is requiring capture and reuse of those gases.

Coal bed methane, biomass combustion, ethanol manufacture and landfill gas are all growing application segments for thermal treatment. Sewage sludge combustion is an application now being served with regenerative thermal oxidizers.

New technologies include catalytic filtration. W.L. Gore introduced REMEDIA®a number of years ago.  Now FLSmidth and Haldor Topsoe have introduced a synthetic media filter with three layers each including a catalyst.  Filtration Group has a catalytic filter element which has been removing VOCs in a number of installations.

The market has shifted from the developed countries to the developing.  Printing, textile, food and other manufacturers with VOC emissions have long been regulated in Europe and the U.S. Now stringent VOC control regulations are being implemented in Asia and South America.

For more information on Thermal Catalytic World Air Pollution Markets, click on:

NEWS RELEASE                                                                                                    FEBRUARY 2015

HCl Scrubbing and Rare Earth Recovery from Coal-Fired Power Plants and Gasifiers are the Perfect Marriage

By using the hydrogen chloride in coal, the rare earths contained in it can be extracted in what the McIlvaine Company believes to be simply the marriage of two proven systems.  This evaluation is contained in two McIlvaine publications, N043 Fossil and Nuclear Power Generation: World Analysis and Forecastand N027 FGD Market and Strategies.

The McIlvaine Company has been evaluating HCl scrubbers in coal-fired power plants. It has also been evaluating the economics of rare earth and metals recovery from the flyash produced by coal combustors and coal gasifiers. Using the two technologies in combination has not been previously addressed. However, McIlvaine concludes that they will unite in a perfect marriage which will reduce electricity costs, reduce environmental emissions and produce very valuable byproducts.

McIlvaine was involved in the original design of the HCl and SO2 scrubbing systems provided by United Engineers to Philadelphia Electric in the 1970s.  Since that date, a number of companies have designed and installed HCl scrubbing systems.  Systems at waste-to-energy plants in Germany start with a water scrubber which quickly absorbs HCl and allows the SO2 to pass through. The recirculated scrubbing liquid quickly reaches 30 percent hydrochloric acid.  This percentage is maintained with a bleed stream of acid which is then purified and sold.

McIlvaine began publishing a newsletter on coal gasification in 1979. In the intervening decades, hundreds of gasifier systems have been installed around the world. China has embarked on a program which would make coal gasification a main source of gas and liquid fuels.  There are several approaches to HCl removal.  The E gas system has a separate HCl scrubber. McIlvaine also suggests that the GE particulate scrubber could be run at low ph and produce hydrochloric acid.  So a two stage scrubbing system is already being used in the gasification process.

China is now mining flyash to recover large quantities of rare earth elements and metals. One of the leaching methods is with hydrochloric acid. Why buy hydrochloric acid when you can make it as part of the process?  The schematic below is a way to marry both processes.


This schematic provides the mixing of HCl and flyash in a system which eliminates the first stage precipitator.  It is therefore attractive for old coal-fired power plants in the U.S. as well as for new coal-fired power plants in China. It does incorporate a wet precipitator.  Coincidently, this is the latest trend in China for other reasons (to meet tough new particulate standards).

Neumann Systems has a contract from DOE to extract REEs and metals in conjunction with a scrubbing system which it is installing at Colorado Springs Public Utilities. The proposed approach by McIlvaine differs by proposing that rather than buy acid, the power plant can make it.  The HCl content does not have to be high.  The first stage scrubber starts with water and then reaches equilibrium with 30 percent dirty acid. A portion is bled to maintain this percentage.

The advantages of using high chlorine coals would be that these coals are less expensive and the byproduct sales volume of acid will be higher.

With an EPA grant Physical Sciences, Inc. (PSI) and the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (UK/CAER) investigated REE extraction from flyash and concluded that the technology “has the potential to significantly reduce U.S. dependency for Rare Earth Elements (REE) on foreign suppliers.”

The Chinese believe coal flyash is already a very attractive source for REEs and are pursuing it aggressively. One reason is that the CO2 emissions are 75 percent less than from extraction through mining.  The coal is already in a powdered condition.  Reducing an ore to a powder takes lots of energy.

This new approach would be more energy efficient than others and would be more cost effective.  Since it is the marriage of two proven processes, the development effort will be minimal.  The McIlvaine Company does not have any patents or proprietary interest in the technology. It serves industry in a consulting role part of which is to identify novel opportunities.  For more information click on: N043 Fossil and Nuclear Power Generation: World Analysis and Forecastand N027 FGD Market and Strategies