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Great Plains Coal Gasification Plant Water Balance Start-Up and Operation
The Great Plains Coal Gasification Plant near Beulah, in Western North Dakota is now in operation producing high quality substitute natural gas (SNG) from lignite coal. Plant start-up began in August 1983 with commissioning of the water treatment plant. On April 24, 1984, the first gasifier was operated on steam and oxygen. The first pipeline quality gas was produced July 28, 1984. The entire plant was onstream by the end of November 1984 meeting the planned 15-month start-up schedule. The plant produced SNG at 68 percent of the 137.5 million standard cubic feet per day (3.894 million standard cubic meters per day) design capacity during December 1984 and January 1985. Debottlenecking projects are underway to allow design capacity operation in 1985.
The Great Plains plant has a highly integrated water system. Lake water is used for make-up at rates of 3,700 to 4,900 GPM (14,000 to 18,500 LPM) winter to summer. The plant does not surface discharge treated process wastewater. Most of the process wastewater is used as cooling tower make-up. A large quantity of water is also consumed in the gasification process. The cooling tower is operated as an aerobic biological treatment system. Most of the water entering the plant leaves as evaporation from the cooling tower. A large quantity of water is also consumed in the gasification process. The remainder, inorganic wastewater, is injected in deepwells. The plant water balance is complex with many interrelationships between the water treatment, steam, cooling water, wastewater treatment, and process units. The water balance was a significant constraint during start-up and continues to be a major factor in plant operation.
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