A review was conducted for coal gasification technologies that integrate with solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) to achieve system efficiencies near 60% while capturing and sequestering >90% of the carbon dioxide [1–2]. The overall system efficiency can reach 60% when a) the coal gasifier produces a syngas with a methane composition of roughly 25% on a dry volume basis, b) the carbon dioxide is separated from the methane-rich synthesis gas, c) the methane-rich syngas is sent to a SOFC, and d) the off-gases from the SOFC are recycled back to coal gasifier. The thermodynamics of this process will be reviewed and compared to conventional processes in order to highlight where available work (i.e. exergy) is lost in entrained-flow, high-temperature gasification, and where exergy is lost in hydrogen oxidation within the SOFC. The main advantage of steam gasification of coal to methane and carbon dioxide is that the amount of exergy consumed in the gasifier is small compared to conventional, high-temperature, oxygen-blown gasifiers. However, the goal of limiting the amount of exergy destruction in the gasifier has the effect of limiting the rates of chemical reactions. Thus, one of the main advantages of steam gasification leads to one of its main problems: slow reaction kinetics. While conventional entrained-flow, high-temperature gasifiers consume a sizable portion of the available work in the coal oxidation, the consumed exergy speeds up the rates of reactions. And while the rates of steam gasification reactions can be increased through the use of catalysts, only a few catalysts can meet cost requirements because there is often significant deactivation due to chemical reactions between the inorganic species in the coal and the catalyst. Previous research into increasing the kinetics of steam gasification will be reviewed. The goal of this paper is to highlight both the challenges and advantages of integrating catalytic coal gasifiers with SOFCs.

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