Southern tests high temperature-pressure power generation technology

Southern Co. announced that it has begun testing of technology to support development of advanced ultrasupercritical boilers, which use higher temperature and pressure to generate electricity with greater efficiency and reduced emissions.

The demonstration, in partnership with Alstom, a global leader in power generation technology, is being conducted on a unit of Southern Co. subsidiary Alabama Power’s Plant Barry near Mobile, Ala.

The two-year project will gather data on the performance of alloy materials under advanced ultrasupercritical temperatures of about 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit.

The materials are assembled into a continuous steam tube inside the boiler that is the focus of the demonstration. The materials will be exposed to flue gas and steam, and researchers will be monitoring the tube to learn more about oxidation and corrosion under actual operating conditions.

Advanced ultrasupercritical boilers have the potential to improve efficiency with higher steam temperature and pressure, while lowering emissions of sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, particulates and carbon dioxide, as well as decreasing water requirements for coal-based generation.

Alloy materials are necessary for operation at advanced ultrasupercritical temperatures and pressure but more study is needed to see how the materials will react.

“This partnership with Alstom is an important addition to Southern Company’s industry-leading research and development portfolio,” said Chris Hobson, Southern Company Chief Environmental Officer. “We expect to gather vital data that can be used by the entire industry as we work to improve the efficiency and reduce the environmental impacts of power generation.”

“Advanced ultrasupercritical boiler technology is an important aspect of the effort to lower environmental impacts of electricity generation while maximizing America’s ability to benefit from reliable, domestically available energy sources,” said Tim Curran, president of Alstom Power in the U.S. “Alstom’s close partnership with Southern Company will provide invaluable data from ‘real-world’ operations, and drive this important technology one step closer to commercialization.”

The project is a key initiative of an industry consortium sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory and the Ohio Coal Development Office, and led by the Energy Industries of Ohio. The members are Alstom, Babcock & Wilcox, Foster Wheeler, Riley Power, EPRI and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.