ThermoEnergy expects proposed Obama EPA carbon regulations to spur adoption of clean combustion technologies

ThermoEnergy Corp. CEO Cary Bullock expects that the Obama Administration’s EPA-proposed first carbon pollution standard for future power plants will spur the adoption of technologies like ThermoEnergy’s to eliminate air pollution from coal-fired plants.

In reacting to the EPA’s newly proposed carbon standard announced this week, Bullock said, “While the EPA Clean Air Act proposal is aimed at new power plants, ThermoEnergy’s clean combustion technology can also be used to retrofit existing power plants to meet the new EPA regulations for both air and carbon emissions,” Bullock said. “We welcome the challenge to clean up the emissions coming from power plants here in the U.S. and around the globe,” Bullock said.

ThermoEnergy owns patented technology for clean coal combustion that enables a coal-fired plant to eliminate its smoke stacks, Bullock noted. ThermoEnergy’s clean combustion technology would allow power plants to burn coal with near-zero carbon and air polluting emissions.

The ThermoEnergy process efficiently captures carbon dioxide in clean form for sequestration or beneficial re-use.

ThermoEnergy’s technology is based on “pressurized oxy-combustion.” Pressurized oxy-combustion replaces air at normal atmospheric pressure in coal-fired plants with highly purified oxygen at high pressures, creating significant improvements in both environmental and economic performance over competing technologies.

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 into the air. As a result, nearly 100% of the conventional pollutants can be captured, eliminating pollution from the smokestack. Virtually all of the carbon dioxide can be captured as well.

ThermoEnergy has pointed out that new EPA air emissions standards will likely result in the elimination of about 70 gigawatts of conventional coal-fired power capacity over the next 2-8 years, representing $40 billion in annual power contracts.

The company has noted that 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. The technology would also allow the creation of new clean coal plants that are able to use the world’s abundant supplies of cheap coal.

The advantages of the overall approach have been well described in recent papers by Ahmed F. Ghoniem, distinguished professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and an adviser to ThermoEnergy (