Based much on data provided by the Gasification Technologies Council (click here), China has been pursuing an increased use of coal gasification technology as a source of chemicals. For example, since 2010, 8 relatively large coal gasification to chemical plants have been started in China (click here; PDF file). Chemicals being produced at these plants include: methanol; polypropylene; olefins; and ammonia. This compares to no new gasification to chemical plants started in the United States since 2000 (click here; jpg file).
The reasons for the differences in this comparison between China and the United States with respect to new gasification plants are certainly complex, involving market, government policy, and other forces and factors way beyond my ability to discuss knowledgeably. However, from what little I do know, the potential of gasification of coal, biomass, and wastes as a source of chemicals as well as energy and fuels, while greatly reducing carbon dioxide emissions (through capture and sequestration), is great. So, whatever China is doing in coal gasification should be followed closely. Also, China’s activities in this area could hopefully represent good opportunities for American, and other companies, to collaborate with (sell to) Chinese companies.