A new synfuels company plans to build a $5-billion lignite gasification plant in Louisiana that would produce a variety of synthetic fuels and cogenerated electricity.

SynFuel Inc., which will have its headquarters in Baton Rouge, and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco (D) announced the proposed plant June 8.

The company plans to apply for regulatory permits this year and start construction by June 2007, with partial fuel production to begin in June 2009. The plant would produce methanol, ethanol, synthetic gas, LPG, gasoline, sulfuric acid and agglomerate, a road construction material. The final production line would be completed in June 2010. Environ, Arlington, Va., is the environmental consultant preparing the applications for environmental permit.

Paul Hsin Liu, SynFuel’s president, says the plant would be a pilot to advance the best available technology and would meet the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s FutureGen environmental requirements. The project will contribute to stable feedstock costs for the huge chemical industry in Louisiana, the project’s backers say.

The proposed plant is world -lass in terms of scale, Jim Childress, executive director of the Gasification Technologies Council said. “The key to its success will be to get long-term purchase agreements for the sale of its products with its future customers,” Childress says.

Mike Cohen, general manager of BASF’s local plant, says SynFuel could offer the chemical plant savings and the two companies have held discussions. Gov. Blanco says the other plants in the immediate area, Hexion Speciality Chemicals, Chemtura and Rubicon, also have expressed interest in doing business with the new company. Synfuel is in preliminary discussions for long-term feedstock supply contracts with the companies, says Jim Harris, spokesman for the Louisiana Dept. of Economic Development.

The plant would use GE Energy technology to gasify the lignite and produce synthetic gas. It would use Holdor-Topsoe technology to produce methanol and ExxonMobil technology to produce gasoline. Sinopec Corp. would integrate all the elements, Harris says.

The plant will minimize emissions, says Harris. Bottom ash would be processed into agglomerate for road construction; sulfur would be processed into sulfuric acid and all water effluent would be recycled, Harris says.

A syndicate of UBS, CityGroup and JPMorgan Chase will help finance the project, Harris says.

Liu and a group of unnamed institutional investors own SynFuel.

Lui, who is a plasma physicist, is a member and former chairman of Sino Global International LLC. He has been involved in the development of power projects in Bangladesh, Brazil and the US.