ThemoEnergy readies oxy-combustion marketing effort

ThermoEnergy Corp. (OTCBB: TMEN) announced March 8 the formation of Unity Power Alliance, which will work with partners and stakeholders to develop, promote, demonstrate and commercialize “pressurized oxy-combustion” as a platform for repowering existing coal-fired plants in the U.S. and building new power plants around the world.

Unity Power Alliance will be the company’s vehicle to develop and commercialize its emissions-free, clean-combustion technologies, and will seek the involvement of other major firms and organizations with an interest in promoting the technology. ThermoEnergy holds several patents in high-pressure oxy-combustion technology.

“Our strategy is to ally with key industry partners to deploy pressurized oxy-combustion power plants where coal and infrastructure is readily available and conventional coal plants cannot economically meet environmental demands,” stated Cary Bullock, CEO of ThermoEnergy. “These repowered plants would produce clean electricity at lower cost than alternatives like wind or solar. Repowering decommissioned coal-fired power plants will provide Unity Power Alliance with a substantial near-term opportunity to commercialize pressurized oxy-combustion technology and participate in revenues from power production. It is our intent to make additional announcements in the near future concerning our new partnerships and agreements.”

The underlying technology that Unity Power Alliance will support is called “pressurized oxy-combustion.” Typical coal-fired plants currently burn coal in air at normal atmospheric pressure. Pressurized oxy-combustion replaces that air with highly purified oxygen at high pressures—creating significant improvements in both environmental and economic performance.

Coal burns more cleanly and efficiently in high pressure oxygen than in normal air. In addition, the high pressure makes it possible to condense—or turn into liquid—the gasses that are normally emitted through the smokestack. As a result, nearly 100% of the conventional pollutants like NOx, SO2, SO3 and mercury can be captured. Virtually all of the CO2 can be captured as well. The CO2 could then be sequestered.

New U.S. Environmental Protection Agency air emissions standards will likely result in the decommissioning of about 70 GW of conventional coal-fired capacity over the next 2-8 years, ThermoEnergy noted. Retrofitting those plants with pressurized oxy-combustion technology could allow those plants and others to be transformed into clean, efficient electricity generators, taking advantage of existing coal supplies and other infrastructure.

“In the longer-term, we see a huge global market for pressurized oxy-combustion in rapidly developing nations such as China where coal is cheap and abundant, and where the government aggressively supports the development of clean power technologies,” Bullock said. “In the near term we expect to have many promising updates on the progress of Unity Power Alliance. As this new enterprise achieves key milestones, we look forward to communicating these accomplishments with our shareholders.”

Oxy-combustion technology is slated for demonstration in the U.S. at the U.S. Department of Energy’s in-development FutureGen 2.0 project in Morgan County, Ill. FutureGen 2.0 would be a first-of-its-kind near-zero emissions power plant. The program involves upgrading the Meredosia power plant’s Unit 4 with oxy-combustion technology to capture about 90% of the plant’s carbon emissions. The CO2 would be transported by pipeline and permanently stored underground at a nearby storage site.

Founded in 1988, ThermoEnergy is a diversified technologies company engaged in the worldwide development, sales and commercialization of patented and/or proprietary municipal and industrial wastewater treatment and power generation technologies.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.