This paper proposes a new kind of multifunctional energy system (MES) using natural gas and coal to more efficiently and more economically produce methanol and power. Traditional chemical processes pursue high conversion ratios of chemical energy of fuels. The new MES focuses on the moderate conversion of the chemical energy of fuels. To do this, about 50% of the coal is partially gasified with pure oxygen and steam as oxidant, and then the unconverted residuals (char) and natural gas are utilized synthetically by char-fired reforming to generate syngas. The combustion of char drives the methane/steam reforming reaction. Here, the reforming reaction is also moderately converted, and the reforming temperature is decreased 100°C–150°C compared with that of the conventional method. The carbon-rich syngas from the partial gasifier of coal and hydrogen-rich syngas from char-fired reformer are mixed together and converted into methanol at a proper conversion ratio (lower than that of conventional chemical process). Finally, the unconverted syngas is used in a combined cycle as fuel for power generation. As a result, the total exergy efficiency of the new system is 55–60%. Comparing to individual systems, including IGCC and natural gas-based methanol plants (MSN), this new system can generate 10–20% more electricity with the same quantity of fossil fuels input and methanol output. In addition, the possibility of reducing the size of gasifier, reformer, and methanol synthesis reactor may reduce investment costs accordingly. These results may provide a new way to use coal and natural gas more efficiently and economically.

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