Leigh Creek Energy syngas pilot plant a success

Wednesday, 24 June, 2020


Leigh Creek Energy turned to Rockwell Automation to design, build and commission a pilot plant to produce synthetic natural gas and monitor the technical and environmental performance of the process.

The Leigh Creek Energy Project uses in situ gasification (ISG) to convert coal from its solid state into its gaseous form, resulting in the generation of synthetic natural gas (syngas).

The challenge was to design the ISG process and keep the pilot plant running continuously without any stoppages. ATSys, a Rockwell Automation Recognised System Integrator, was commissioned to develop the electrical implementation and control system for the plant.

Given the process, safety and environmental considerations for the plant, the choice of control and automation system requirements was paramount.

“We selected Rockwell Automation hardware and software for this project because it has been proven to be reliable, and we could be confident that the technology would be fit for the purpose of this project,” ATSys Managing Director Andre Tassone said.

Rockwell installed the PlantPAx distributed control system to integrate critical process areas of the plant and deliver plant-wide control and optimisation. Allen-Bradley CompactLogix controllers and PowerFlex drives with Safe Torque-Off delivered a fully integrated architecture, allowing all equipment to integrate over Ethernet into the controllers and enabling fast control with detailed diagnostics.

Reducing engineering time associated with installation and commissioning was a key priority for the project.

“By using the PlantPAx Library of Process Objects in the Leigh Creek project, we were able to reduce the engineering and testing time involved. We also decided to design all the equipment on skids to reduce installation time onsite,” ATSys Principal Control Systems Engineer Phil Galbraith explained.

The FactoryTalk product suite provided real-time visibility into the system for monitoring and controlling the plant. This platform enabled remote access to the production data.

The pilot project resulted in the successful production of commercial syngas, with a peak flow rate of 7.5 mmcf/day; this was higher than anticipated for the ISG process.

“The success of this trial has effectively unlocked a large energy resource of huge value and captured key data that validates the fact that this proven ISG technology can be successful in a commercial application,” Leigh Creek Energy Managing Director Phil Staveley said.

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