The pilot demonstration facility, also known as the Alpha plant, began construction in May 2001 and was mechanically complete by the end of the year. The primary function of the facility was to evaluate CASP’s feasibility and verify its environmental and economic advantages on an industrial scale. Another criteria for the facility was that it had to be capable of producing bulk quantities of Cokonyx to be tested in a commercial environment. The plant was designed to produce 10,000 tons of Cokonyx per year.
The Alpha plant has been instrumental in the design of CASP. During routine production cycles, the Alpha Plant engineers and operators constantly analyzed and examined areas of the facility requiring improvement, resizing, or total replacement. Once the changes were implemented, they were tested for reliability, cost effectiveness, and their overall effect on the process was then calculated. A substantial amount of these inputs were implemented in the design of the Beta plant, Carbonyx’s first commercial facility.
One of the most appealing advantages of the technology is its ability to change or adjust the input raw materials based on the geographic location of a facility. Metallurgical coal, the primary raw material for coke, is a scarce resource available only in certain parts of the world. CASP empowers a client to reduce their dependency on the metallurgical coal market fluctuations by utilizing various other forms of carbon, including lower grades of coal.
The Alpha plant’s appropriate size and process controls enable it to be a raw materials testing and process evolution center. As a part of a feasibility study, when a potential client identifies a base material suitable for its needs, it sends the material to the Alpha plant for a sample of Cokonyx to be produced and then tested in its facility. CASP’s flexibility continues to make the Alpha plant an integral element for the advancement of this technology.
The Beta plant, Carbonyx’s first full-scale industrial demonstration facility, began construction in late 2003 and began its initial production cycles in early 2005. The Beta plant was designed to produce 50,000 tons of Cokonyx per year to be sold on a retail basis to iron and steel related industries. The plant occupies over five acres of land and includes a railroad spur for transportation of raw and finished materials.
Because of the unique characteristics of each client’s requirements, the Beta plant is capable of producing multiple and customizable product lines. Aside from the normal raw materials, a specific additive can be precisely added to a blend depending on the client’s desired final product characteristics.
Developing an integrated controls interface was a key initiative in the design of the Beta plant. The Beta plant features a central automated controls interface that can examine and adjust all aspects of the process with an interface from the control room.
Demanding environmental regulations are constant threat to existing coke making technologies. The continuous nature of CASP and the proprietary gas treatment system enables it to surpass the most stringent restrictions.
The modular design basis for CASP and its implementation in the Beta plant allows Carbonyx to operate the facility based on its incremental yearly demand. This translates into a significant competitive advantage by adopting effective cost cutting measures required in the current cyclical iron and steel market.