COHYGEN - COHYGEN (Coal to Hydrogen Generation) pilot plant

Facility Location
City & country
Carbonia (Italy)
Description & contacts of the access provider
Legal name of organisation
SOTACARBO - Società Tecnologie Avanzate Carbone
Infrastructure contact - Primary contact
Mr. Enrico Maggio
RICC contact - Secondary contact
Enrico Maggio

The COHYGEN (Coal to Hydrogen Generation) pilot plant was developed in 2008 in order to study and optimize a syngas treatment process for combined production of hydrogen and electrical energy with CO2 capture. It is located in the Sotacarbo Research Centre in Carbonia (South-West Sardinia, Italy). The COHYGEN pilot plant is based on a 300 mm diameter fixed-bed up-draft gasifier, equipped with several sections for syngas treatment and both power generation and hydrogen production with CO2 capture. The plant is extremely flexible and suitable for several kinds of experimental tests. Summarizing, the plant includes the following gross sections:

  • gasification section;
  • syngas cleaning system (scrubbing, hot- and cold-gas desulphurization);
  • power generation line;
  • water-gas shift and CO2 capture system;
  • hydrogen separation (PSA);
  • process control and analysis system;
  • auxiliaries.

In the gasification reactor, the fuel bed operates at about 0.11-0.14 MPa. The gasification agents (air, if necessary enriched with oxygen, and steam) can be pre-heated up to 250°C in order to avoid steam condensation before the injection into the gasifier. They are introduced into the reactor near the bottom, below the fuel grate. The syngas cleaning system is composed of a wet scrubber for a first gross removal of dust and tar, a first cold gas desulphurization stage and an electrostatic precipitator (ESP) for a fine dust and tar removal. Then syngas can be sent to a power generation line, which includes a packed column for a fine cold gas desulphurization (but frequently used also as a CO2 absorber) and a 24 kW internal combustion engine (ICE). Otherwise, syngas can be desulphurized in a hot gas desulphurization system which uses zinc oxides as the sorbent. An integrated CO-shift and CO2 removal unit includes a double stage water gas shift reactor (which can be filled with both conventional and advanced catalysts) with an intermediate and a secondary CO2 absorber (based on two identical bubbling reactors in which syngas reacts with amine-based solvents). The system operates at atmospheric pressure (but the system will be improved soon to operate at high pressure) and the configuration is very flexible. Finally, a hydrogen purification system (by pressure swing adsorption, PSA) allows separation of H2 from the remaining nitrogen. In order to support experimental tests, the pilot plant is equipped with a control and sampling system that allows monitoring of the main operating parameters (such as pressures, temperatures, volume flows etc) and evaluation of the process performance. Syngas composition is measured by three different systems:

  • two real-time oxygen analyser;
  • a micro gas-chromatograph (Agilent 3000);
  • an ABB real-time monitoring system.
State of the art, uniqueness, & specific advantages

The plant has been widely tested (about 2500 hours) and, together with ZECOMIX (Enea Research Centre in Casaccia), it is one of the most important infrastructures involved in the Italian CCS national programme, mainly for studying capture technologies (both pre- and post-combustion) in power plants fed with low rank coal.

Scientific Environment
  • Availability of basic services as air, steam, gas, electricity supply
  • Availability of extended online monitoring and data acquisition of all operative plant parameters
  • Availability of gas analysis equipment that will enable users to conduct high quality research
  • Availability of laboratories for off line analysis of solid and liquid materials


EC DG Research - RFCS
Other Large Initiatives

selected publications

A. Pettinau, G. Calì, E. Loria, P. Miraglia, F. Ferrara (2015)
The Sotacarbo gasification pilot platform: Plant overview, recent experimental results and potential future integrations
Applied Thermal Engineering, vol. 74, pp. 2-9;
A. Pettinau, F. Ferrara, C. Amorino (2011)
An overview about current and future experimental activities in a flexible gasification pilot plant
In: “Gasification: Chemistry, Processes and Applications” Nova Publishers, New York (USA), ISBN: 978-1-61209-681-0;
A. Pettinau, C. Frau, F. Ferrara (2011)
“Performance assessment of a fixed-bed gasification pilot plant for combined power generation and hydrogen production
Fuel Processing Technology, vol. 92, pp. 1946-1953.
G. Cau, V. Tola, A. Pettinau (2015)
A steady state model for predicting performance of small-scale up-draft coal gasifier
Fuel, vol. 152, pp. 3-12.
M. Corbetta, A. Bassani, F. Manenti, C. Pirola, E. Maggio, A. Pettinau, P. Deiana, S. Pierucci, E. Ranzi (2015)
Multi-scale kinetic modelling and experimental investigation of syngas production from coal gasification in updraft gasifiers
Energy & Fuels, vol. 29, pp. 3972-3984.