Gasification is a process that converts biomass, gas, oil or coal into a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, known as synthesis gas. The resulting synthesis gas can be used to make all kinds of chemical products which are subsequently converted into end products such as plastics and fertilisers. It can also be used for power generation.

During the oil crisis of the 1970s, the researchers at Shell in Amsterdam were tasked with making oil products out of coal. Amongst others this resulted in the construction of a pilot plant for performing coal gasification in 1976. The coal gasification process was subsequently tested and demonstrated on an increasingly larger scale in the 1980s at refineries in Hamburg, Germany, and Houston, USA.

In the Netherlands, the Joint Utility Companies (Samenwerkende Elektriciteits Producenten) were interested in using coal and the gasification process to generate cleaner electricity. They chose Shell's coal gasification technology. The Willem-Alexander power station in Buggenum, in the province of Limburg, was one of the first commercial coal gasification power plants in the world. Electricity has been successfully generated there since 1993 and for the last ten years the power station also used biomass.

The success of the Buggenum coal gasification plant has attracted worldwide interest. Particularly in China, coal gasification is an important technology which is used, for example, for the production of fertilisers and methanol for manufacturing plastics. There are now more than 20 coal gasification plants operating with Shell licensed technology. The development of the technology continues to this day and is focused primarily on lowering investment costs for the process.

More in gasification licensing

Why Gasification?

Gasification is a clean and reliable way to create synthesis gas (syngas) from low-value feedstocks to produce high-value products and power.

Residue Gasification

Shell’s Gasification Process, when integrated with upgrading and treating technologies, converts a wide range of low-value refinery residues and asphaltenes into syngas.

Products and applications

The Shell Coal Gasification process can handle a variety of feeds, from high- to low-quality coal, even biomass.

Global experience

We operate our own gasifiers, which helps us to understand and anticipate your operational needs.