Speakers detail research into cleaner coal technology, including CCS

With coal plant emissions increasingly under scrutiny, researchers in individual companies as well as the Department of Energy (DOE), the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the states are busy these seeking advances in coal power technology.

The emerging Clean Coal Technologies session at Coal-Gen presented findings from various research efforts related to the development of advanced ultra-supercritical pulverized coal-fired power plants, including economic analysis of such power plants.

The session also addressed recent research and development related to advanced manufacturing and materials research applicable to advanced ultra super-critical power plant development.

The session also included an overview of the U.S. DOE’s six major carbon capture and geologic storage demonstration projects.

The DOE CCS projects include the 582-MW Kemper County integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) project that Southern Co. (NYSE: SO) subsidiary Mississippi Power has nearly completed in Mississippi, said Thomas Sarkus of DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).

Kemper is 98% complete, Sarkus said. It’s a $6 billion project and “not for the faint of heart,” Sarkus said. The DOE official noted that the Kemper project also includes an adjacent lignite coal mine.

Other key power projects that would use some degree of carbon capture and storage (CCS) include the Texas Summit IGCC in Texas; the NRG Energy Petro Nova project in Texas as well as the Hydrogen Energy California (HECA) project in California, Sarkus said.

The HECA project is the farthest away from becoming a reality, Sarkus said. There are also two non-power generation CCS projects that could have implications for power plants, Sarkus said.

EPRI Technical Leader Advanced Generation Andrew Maxson reviewed some of the research occurring around materials needed to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from advanced super-critical coal plants.

“These more advanced materials are not cheap,” Maxson said. Having materials that can operate at higher temperatures, and thus higher efficiency, is central to a “least regret strategy,” for CO2 reduction, he added.

Higher efficiency means plants can produce the same amount of electricity with less fuel, which means less CO2 being produced in the first place, Maxson said.

Roy Sheppard and Nancy Horton of the non-profit Energy Industries of Ohio talked about developing advanced materials for higher efficiency coal plants. Unfortunately, some of the steel needed for the advanced material is no longer produced domestically. It’s made in Japan and there is a long lead time on orders, the officials said.

Energy Industries of Ohio is working to revive the making of certain key materials domestically, the two officials said.

The session was chaired by William Frazier, Ph.D., of Lummus Consultants. Frazier has over 35 years of environmental and power engineering experience including numerous assignments related to power plant permitting, acquisition support and due diligence reviews.

Frazier ran through a summary of circulating fluidized bed (CFB) technology throughout the world, including plants in the United States, China and Europe.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.