POINT PLEASANT, West Virginia – Developers of the Domestic Synthetic Fuels facility in Mason County, West Virginia, believe the project is good for the state of West Virginia and safe for the environment.
That’s because much of the material that goes into the facility will be recycled and used over and over, never leaving the site.
“This is environmentally sound,” said Kevin Whited, lead developer of the facility.
“We’re excited to bring a $1.2 billion project to the Mountain State.”
Domestic Synthetic Fuels will use abundant West Virginia coal and combine it with hydrogen generated from abundant West Virginia natural gas to create ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, gasoline and other products for sale. The time-proven conversion process subjects the coal, hydrogen and a reusable catalyst to heat and pressure to convert the materials directly into liquid fuels. The coal is never burned, making Domestic Synthetic Fuels cleaner and more efficient than facilities using indirect conversion methods.
The state-of-the-art technology that will be used at Domestic Synthetic Fuels is similar to technology currently used at a synthetic fuels plant in Shenhua, China, which has been successfully operating since 2008.
“I had the opportunity firsthand to visit the Shenhua facility as it was operating in a very early, early stage,” said Chris Hamilton, senior vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association. “We were all just overwhelmed by the process, of how clean the process was and how technologically advanced it is.”
Whited said much of the material that goes into the facility will be recycled throughout the process.
“Most of the process is going to be self-contained, which is very important,” said John Musgrave, director of the Mason County Economic Development Authority. “If you’re self-contained, you don’t have a lot of waste.”
Catalyst used to help turn coal into fuels can be reused several times, but even the spent catalyst is useful and can be sold.
“A facility like this, they really have no waste, and all the byproducts will be used for other materials,” said Development Authority President Mario Liberatore.
Most of the water used within the facility also will be continually recycled, and only enough extra water is needed to make up for water lost through evaporation. Engineers estimate it will take about 210 gallons a minute to make up for the evaporated water, which is minimal compared to the 2.1 million gallons of water per second that flow past the facility in the Ohio River.