DOE picks eight projects to advance oxy-combustion CO2 control

Alstom Power, which has been developing a limestone-based chemical looping combustion technology for CO2 control, is one of several parties that will get a new round of U.S. Department of Energy funding for CO2-capture research.

The selected project will continue Alstom’s prior work by enabling the full analysis of the process through an engineering system and economic study along with the development of a screening tool for process improvements. Additional analyses include the evaluation of pressurizing the limestone chemical looping combustion process.

As part of President Barack Obama’s all-of-the-above approach to American energy, DOE announced July 26 the selection of a total of eight projects to advance the development of transformational oxy-combustion technologies capable of high-efficiency, low-cost CO2 capture from coal-fired power plants. DOE’s $7m investment – leveraged with recipient cost-share to support about $9.4m in total projects – will support the development and deployment of Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) by focusing on further improving the efficiency and reducing the costs associated with carbon capture.

“Advancing the development of clean coal technologies is an important part of President Obama’s strategy to develop every source of American energy,” said DOE Secretary Steven Chu. “These projects will build on the important progress made by this Administration in promoting innovative technologies that help make coal-fired energy cleaner and more cost-competitive. America’s leadership in developing new Carbon, Capture, Utilization and Storage technologies is helping to ensure the United States continues to lead the world in this growing global market.”

As a promising near-term technology, oxy-combustion applied at facilities using pulverized coal-fired boilers for power or industrial applications, will support CCUS efforts and result in ultra-low emissions, DOE noted. The oxy-combustion process replaces the air used for combustion with a mixture of oxygen and recycled plant emissions, or “flue gas,” and/or water for temperature control. The remainder of the flue gas that is not recirculated is rich in CO2 and water vapor – and is easily separated – producing a stream of CO2 ready for utilization or sequestration.

The selections announced July 26 are part of a two-phase effort to evaluate and develop advanced oxy-combustion projects that yield cost-competitive options for CCUS. These projects will aim to achieve at least 90% CO2 removal while delivering CO2 at a capture cost of less than $25 per ton. The Phase 1 projects will focus on an engineering and economic analysis of the technologies while identifying the Phase 2 research and development needs. The selection of Phase 2 projects will occur next year based upon Phase 1 results. 

The selected projects, each lasting one year, will be managed by the Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

The following projects have been selected for award negotiation:

Alstom Power (Windsor, Conn.) — Alstom Power, through prior U.S. DOE investments, has been developing the limestone-based chemical looping combustion technology. The selected project will continue this work by enabling the full analysis of the process through an engineering system and economic study along with the development of a screening tool for process improvements. Additional analyses include the evaluation of pressurizing the limestone chemical looping combustion process. The DOE investment is $1m, with a recipient cost-share of $250,000.

Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group (Barberton, Ohio) — The project will focus on furthering the development of Ohio State University’s coal direct chemical looping process (CDCL). The CDCL process consists of a unique moving bed reactor where pulverized coal is fully converted using iron-based oxygen carriers. This reactor design and reaction pathway of CDCL process allows for retrofit, repowering or new installations with a major reduction in the cost of oxygen production. The DOE investment is $988,000, with a recipient cost-share of $828,000.

Gas Technology Institute (Des Plaines, Ill.) — This project will evaluate the potential of a novel pressurized oxy-combustion process based upon a molten bed combustor. This combustor offers higher efficiency than other known oxy-combustion processes by greatly reducing flue gas recirculation while operating at elevated pressure. The boiler concept, DOE noted, should allow for a more compact combustor with reduced gas-phase heat exchanger surface area. The DOE investment is $800,000, with a recipient cost-share of $200,000.

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (Canoga Park, Calif.) — This project will evaluate a novel process for pressurized oxy-combustion in a fluidized bed reactor. The pressurized combustion in oxygen and the recycle of CO2 gas eliminates the presence of nitrogen and other constituents of air, minimizing the generation of pollutants and enabling a more economical capture of CO2. DOE investment is $1m, with a recipient cost-share of $226,000.

Southwest Research Institute (San Antonio, Texas) — The institute is investigating a novel supercritical CO2 power cycle utilizing pressurized oxy-combustion in conjunction with cryogenic compression. This power cycle leverages developments in pressurized oxy-combustion technology, a cryogenic CO2 compression system and recent developments in supercritical power cycles to achieve high net cycle efficiencies while producing a captive CO2 stream at pipeline pressures without requiring additional CO2 compression. DOE investment of $700,000, with a recipient cost-share of $175,000.

Unity Power Alliance (Worcester, Mass.) — This project will evaluate a flameless combustion technology developed by ITEA in Italy under pressurized oxy-combustion conditions. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will work with the technology developer to establish a modeling basis for the flameless reactor conditions in order to conduct a techno-economic assessment of a range of flameless pressurized oxy-combustion cycles and conditions. Lab data will be collected to assess the performance of the system. DOE investment of $1m, with a recipient cost-share of $391,000.

University of Kentucky Research Foundation (Lexington, Ky.) — The aim is to investigate a heat-integrated, coal-based combined cycle for power generation using a pressurized chemical looping combustor (PCLC). The PCLC system aims to produce high-temperature flue gas for electricity generation through a gas-turbine and a heat recovery unit combined with a conventional steam cycle. The cost effectiveness and efficiency of the process using iron-based oxygen carriers will be examined. DOE investment of $599,000, with a recipient cost-share of $156,000.

Washington University (St. Louis, Mo.) — The university will evaluate the technical feasibility and improved economics of a unique pressurized system which incorporates a fuel-staged combustion approach. By staging the combustion, the temperature and heat transfer can be controlled. The potential benefits are higher efficiency, reduced gas volumes, reduced oxygen demands, reduced capital costs, increased CO2 purity after combustion and reduced auxiliary power demands. DOE investment of $854,000, with a recipient cost-share of $209,000.

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.