Babcock & Wilcox kicks into second phase of FutureGen 2.0

The Babcock & Wilcox Co. (NYSE: BWC) said Oct. 4 that its subsidiary, Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group (B&W PGG), has signed an agreement with the FutureGen Industrial Alliance for full front-end engineering and design work on the FutureGen 2.0 carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in Meredosia, Ill.

The agreement marks the start of the second phase of the three-phase U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)-funded project. The DOE has authorized up to $49m to fund B&W’s Phase 2 engineering and design activities. Construction of the plant, expected to start in June 2014, would follow in Phase 3.

B&W PGG will design and supply a boiler island and oxy-coal combustion system, gas quality control system and provide the balance of plant engineering for this cutting-edge coal-fired plant. The project’s goal is to capture more than 90% of the CO2 generated during the combustion process, reducing the plant’s CO2 footprint by more than 1 million tons annually.

“This agreement is an important next step in our progress toward making near-zero-emissions power generation from coal a reality,” said B&W PGG President and COO J. Randall Data. “We look forward to continuing our relationship with the FutureGen Industrial Alliance, the DOE and the project team in demonstrating the value of carbon-capture technology.”

The oxy-coal combustion process to be deployed at the plant, developed by B&W PGG and Air Liquide, uses oxygen mixed with recycled flue gas to replace the normal combustion air in a coal-fired boiler. As coal is burned, the resulting flue gas consists primarily of CO2, which is well-suited for compression and storage. The CO2 captured from the FutureGen 2.0 plant will be transported and stored underground at a nearby storage facility.

Approvals secured, in the works for FutureGen 2.0 project

The FutureGen alliance has been working on various project approvals, including two in the past year from the Illinois Commerce Commission related to state-mandated sales of power from the plant into the deregulated state power market.

Also, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is taking comment until Nov. 8 on a draft air construction permit for Ameren Energy Resources Generating Co. and the FutureGen alliance for the FutureGen 2.0 project. This project would be a repowering of part of Ameren’s shut Meredosia power plant. The FutureGen alliance would take over those portions of the plant it needs from Ameren.

The proposed project would be developed to enable the use of carbon capture and sequestration technology, with a portion of CO2 emissions from the plant being captured and sent by pipeline to a sequestration facility. The sequestration facility would be located about 30 miles east of the plant in rural northeastern Morgan County, Ill.

This new boiler will replace the existing coal and oil-fired boilers at the source, which will be permanently shut down. This boiler will produce steam that will be used to generate electricity in the existing steam turbine generator at the Meredosia Energy Center that was previously supplied by an oil-fired boiler. Two new cooling towers would be constructed and an existing cooling tower would be rebuilt. A small, oil-fired auxiliary boiler, which will be installed as part of the new plant, would supply steam for the plant for purposes other than generating electricity when the new coal-fired oxy-combustion boiler is not in service.

The new oxy-combustion boiler would be designed for operation with over 95% oxygen. This oxygen would be supplied by an Air Separation Unit that would be built as part of the new plant. The boiler will be designed so that 90% of the CO2 generated during normal operation in oxy-combustion mode would be captured and would not be released to the atmosphere.

This boiler will also have the capability to operate with air, like a conventional boiler. The boiler would start up with air and then transition to the oxy-combustion mode. In the event of an upset in the operation of the boiler or an outage or upset in the CO2 pipeline or sequestration facility, the boiler could transition back into air-firing mode.

The Illinois EPA is also taking public comment until Nov. 8 on a revised water permit needed for the FutureGen 2.0 project.

The FutureGen alliance is a non-profit corporation engaged by the DOE under a federal financial assistance award to implement the DOE’s FutureGen 2.0 Program. FutureGen 2.0 was initiated in October 2010 by DOE, which has committed more than $1bn in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds and other appropriations for research, development and demonstration activities of oxy-combustion and CO2 capture, transportation, and storage.

The project will use a blend of high-sulfur Illinois bituminous coal (60%) and low-sulfur Powder River Basin coal (40%) and have a gross output capacity of 176.3 MW, which includes an approximate 8 MW capacity increase that results from a steam turbine upgrade.

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.