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Kemper energy facility reaches syngas production milestone

The Kemper power plant has started producing syngas, which Mississippi Power said Friday is a major milestone to getting the $6.7 billion facility fully operational using lignite.
The Kemper power plant has started producing syngas, which Mississippi Power said Friday is a major milestone to getting the $6.7 billion facility fully operational using lignite.

The Kemper County energy facility has started producing syngas using lignite coal, Mississippi Power said Friday.

The company calls the development “the most significant milestone at the plant to date” and said it shows the Transport Integrated Gasification technology being used for the first time on a commercial scale will work.

The process will be combined with other major systems to eventually produce power.

“Producing syngas from Mississippi’s own abundant natural resource — lignite — should be encouraging to our customers, communities and energy companies around the world,” said Mississippi Power President Anthony Wilson. “This proves that Kemper’s technology can provide a way forward for coal and puts us a step closer to full plant operation.”

The Kemper facility is operating on natural gas. Mississippi Power said the production of syngas is an important step toward achieving full commercial operation with lignite.

During the coming weeks, Mississippi Power said it will focus on starting up and integrating the systems needed to achieve the next major milestone — using syngas to produce electricity at the plant.

The latest date provided by the company to get the plant operational is by the end of the third quarter, which is in October. The cost of the facility, originally $2.4 billion, is now about $6.7 billion.

Syngas is created when lignite mined on the site at Kemper is heated at high temperatures in the plant’s gasifiers, converting the coal to gas.

When fully operational, the plant is designed to capture marketable products from syngas, such as carbon dioxide, which is expected to be used for enhanced oil recovery — a process through which CO2 is injected into the ground to extract the fuel from depleted oil fields.

The facility is designed to capture at least 65 percent of carbon dioxide, with resulting emissions better than a similarly sized natural gas plant.

The plant’s technology was jointly developed by Southern Company, KBR and the U.S. Department of Energy over the past two decades at the Power Systems Development Facility, an Alabama-based research facility operated by Southern Company.

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