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Chinese are first customers for Bixby Energy's promising coal-to-gas technology

startribune.com    7/5/2010 4:52:00 PM    ReadCount:614

Bixby Energy says its units cut carbon-dioxide emissions by 65 percent using a 'closed-loop system' that avoids burning the coal.
Minnesota entrepreneur Bob Walker has closed on the inaugural sale of several coal-to-gas conversion units to industrial customers in China, where it is said a journey of one thousand miles begins with the first step.
Walker, CEO of Bixby Energy Systems of Ramsey, said this week that first sale means "millions'' in revenue and will demonstrate a next-generation, "clean-coal" technology that cuts carbon dioxide emissions by two-thirds compared with burning coal and also generates valuable derivative products.
His Chinese customers are "are very aggressive on this technology," he said.
The Bixby process promises an environmentally and financially sound method to extract energy from coal, one of our most plentiful natural resources. A pilot system, run for more than two years, proves the viability and efficiency of the process, Walker said.
"Energy producers and governments from around the world have already visited our facilities and discussions are underway with many,'' Walker added.
If the Bixby process can be validated and produced on a large scale, it represents a significant breakthrough in terms of creating clean, inexpensive natural gas for fueling industry and power plants, while capturing most of the carbon, which can be sold for industrial purposes instead of vented into the atmosphere, a major source of pollution.
According to a 105-page review of the process published in 2009 by engineering firm MPX Inc. of Knoxville, Tenn., the Bixby process is "built around a series of interdependent patents and processes that allow for the thermal conversion of coal into solid, liquid and gaseous products." The reviewers found that the Bixby engineers "have applied 21st century knowledge in material science, electronic engineering, chemical engineering and fluid dynamics to the problem of achieving the maximum value from coal with the minimum environmental impact."