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From Coal to Hydrogen: Understanding the Role of Engineered Fabric Structures

You’re constantly looking for ways to make your power plant more efficient. But where exactly do you start?

The reality is, one of the best ways to improve your power plant operations is to make the switch from coal to sustainable hydrogen.

Companies all over the world are embracing the coal to hydrogen conversion process. And if you don’t, you can be left behind in the race to become more efficient and sustainable.

Fortunately, making this switch couldn’t be easier with engineered fabric structures. Here’s a rundown on how fabric structures for power plants can aid power stations that are converting from coal to sustainable hydrogen.

The Importance of Coal to Hydrogen Conversion

The conversion from coal to hydrogen is so important because when you use hydrogen as your fuel, water is released as your byproduct. As a result, the fuel is clean, as it produces no emissions that are harmful to the environment.

In addition, with hydrogen, pollution control is possible. After all, you can remove particulates and even carbon dioxide from your gas stream efficiently.

Utilizing coal to hydrogen conversion can also make the nation less reliant on petroleum that is imported. In addition, it can help to create job opportunities by creating a vibrant domestic industry.

On top of the above, converting coal-powered plants to hydrogen offers benefits for the environment. This is particularly true when you integrate this process with top-tier technologies in several areas.

These areas include power production, coal gasification, carbon capture, carbon utilization, and carbon storage.

Integrating these technologies helps with capturing many pollutants, including the following:

  • Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases
  • Particulates
  • Mercury
  • Nitrogen oxides
  • Sulfur oxides

In fact, when we use hydrogen in fuel cell automobiles, we could eliminate transportation sector emissions in the years ahead.

A Look at the Companies Using the Conversion Process, and How the Process Works

Companies around the world that are currently doing this include Uniper and Siemens. They are working to drive a hydrogen-fueled power makeover across Europe.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is also managing a coal-to-hydrogen conversion process in Utah. As part of this Intermountain Power Project, a generator that is coal-fired will be converted to turbines that use green hydrogen.

Let’s take a quick look at how the coal-to-hydrogen conversion process works.

First, a process called partial oxidation is necessary to generate hydrogen from coal. Partial oxidation involves adding some air to coal. This produces carbon dioxide gas via traditional combustion.

The carbon dioxide then ends up reacting with the coal’s other carbon to generate carbon monoxide. After this, the carbon monoxide reacts with steam, thus producing carbon dioxide and hydrogen.

The hydrogen then goes through a fuel cell on-site to produce electricity that is high-efficiency.

As a general rule of thumb, brown coal is a better option for gasification compared with black coal. That’s because brown coal contains a high amount of oxygen, which makes it less stable chemically. As a result, breaking it apart during the gasification process is easier.

Benefits of Fabric Structures for Power Plants

Whether you use brown or black coal for the gasification process, it’s generally a wise move to use fabric structures to help you with this process. You can even use this type of structure for on-site housing and office space as needed.

Here’s why.

Fabric structures for power plants can provide the facilities you need for several uses during the gasification process. These uses include on-site fabrication plants, maintenance facilities, and equipment storage.

The truth is, a building made from brick and mortar isn’t cost-effective and cannot be easily relocated. However, a fabric structure meets these demands. At the same time, it still offers the reliable coverage that traditional buildings do.

When it comes to cost, fabric structures don’t require the high upfront material and construction costs associated with traditional buildings. In addition, you don’t have to worry about high property taxes, maintenance costs, and energy costs with fabric structures (more on maintenance and energy costs later).

Fabric structures are also versatile for any industrial application. That’s because with these structures, you can arrange several of them or use one of them to meet your operational needs. You don’t have to house your operations all under the roof of a single traditional building.

In addition, your chosen fabric structure can fulfill your specific height and space needs. And you can do this without having to pay the astronomical expenses associated with similarly sized traditional buildings.

With fabric structures, you can furthermore expand your operations over time. That’s because integrating a new fabric building into your existing site is easy.

Fabric structures also offer the added bonus of being very mobile and thus flexible and convenient to use.

Durable Fabric Structures

Another major benefit of custom fabric structures is that they are highly durable.

A common misnomer is that if you want to save money on your building, you have to compromise on the building’s structural integrity. This isn’t the case with a fabric structure. And that’s especially invaluable on sites like power plants. After all, on these sites, you can’t afford to have infrastructure that is unstable or not able to withstand the wind and snow loads for the power plant’s location.

More expensive fabric structures can even be engineered to meet specific site challenges and provide a safer space for workers and equipment.

With the help of a reputable fabric structure provider, you can get an engineered fabric structure that will meet your regional or international building codes’ requirements. Gain peace of mind by investing in an engineered fabric structure and having the assurance that your structure will withstand your area’s weather conditions, such as snow and wind loads.

At the same time, fabric structures can be designed to include translucent fabric material. This allows natural light to enter the structures during the daytime, reducing energy costs associated with lighting. An engineered fabric structure can also be insulated, heated, or cooled just like a traditional building, allowing you to create a comfortable work environment protected from the elements, or keep sensitive equipment at the optimum temperature.

Efficiency and Sustainability

Industrial fabric structures additionally offer many eco-friendly benefits compared with traditional construction methods.

Engineered fabric structures are designed to have minimal foundation requirements, reducing the need for expensive and time-intensive site preparations to begin construction. This can have a major benefit on the environment.

Prefabricated building solutions like engineered fabric structures have lower weight and shipping volumes than traditional building materials, drastically reducing the logistics and costs associated with transporting building materials to the site.

Once delivered, an engineered fabric building is designed for rapid setup, translating to a much shorter construction schedule. This means you’ll need less equipment and expensive labor crews working for weeks or months to construct a power plant building.

In addition, because engineered fabric structures are virtually maintenance-free, maintenance crews won’t need a lot of equipment or to spend a lot of time to keep them operational.

As a whole, these structures are long-lasting, energy-efficient, and environmentally responsible. And because fabric structures help to boost your operational efficiency, they can increase your business profits long-term.

All in all, they offer the sustainability you need to advance in the years ahead.

> Read More! Modular Buildings to Support Heavy Engineering, Mass Transit, Power Plant, and Construction Projects

Engineered Fabric Buildings for Power Plants

Alaska Structures® offers top-of-the-line fabric structures, specifically designed and engineered for power plants going through the coal-to-hydrogen conversion process. We take pride in offering engineered fabric structures that will last for decades.

Our structures stand out as being quick to set up with minimal foundation requirements. They are also easy to move and relocate to various areas or plant facilities when needed. In addition, you can repurpose them and use them as your permanent building solutions.

Our fabric structures also stand out for being heavy-duty and capable of withstanding extreme weather — designed to meet the specific snow loads and wind speeds in your area. As a result, they can easily protect your important assets no matter your climate.

In addition, you can quickly reconfigure or expand our structures. This can help you to accommodate rapidly changing trends in the energy industry. Likewise, you can expand the structures to incorporate new technologies when they are available.

If you are concerned about choosing fabric structures that are environmentally friendly, Alaska Structures utilizes lean manufacturing to decrease waste. In fact, any excess materials generated during our manufacturing process are recycled.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about how our engineered fabric structures can help you to efficiently convert your coal plant to hydrogen. With our help, you can be well on your way to boosting your bottom line in the years ahead.

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Featured image via Pixabay

Alaska Structures
Alaska Structures® is the world's leading provider of engineered fabric building and turnkey camp systems. Our modular buildings are proudly made in the U.S. and designed to meet area-specific wind and snow loads required by local codes or the International Building Code (IBC) for safety. No other fabric-building provider comes close to matching our level of expertise or experience.

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