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Alstom and American Electric Power to Bring CO2 Capture Technology to Commercial Scale by 2011

15 March 2007

Alstom
The basic stages of post-combustion CO2 gas treatment. Click to enlarge. Source: Purdue University.

Alstom and American Electric Power (AEP) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to bring Alstom’s advanced sorbent CO2 capture (chilled ammonia) process to full commercial scale of up to 200 MW by 2011. This is a major step in demonstrating post-combustion carbon capture.

The technology can be applied as a retrofit to existing coal-fired plants as well as in new designs. Alstom is currently working on a 5 MW pilot project for the chilled ammonia system with EPRI.

The AEP project will be implemented in two phases. In phase one, Alstom and AEP will jointly develop a 30 MWth product validation plant that will capture CO2 from flue gas emitted from AEP’s 1,300 MW Mountaineer Plant located in New Haven, West Virginia. It is targeted to capture up to 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

The captured CO2 will be designated for geological storage in deep saline aquifers at the site. This pilot is scheduled for start-up at the end of 2008 and will operate for approximately 12-18 months.

In phase two, Alstom will design, construct and commission a commercial scale of up to 200 MW CO2 capture system on one of the 450 MW coal-fired units at its Northeastern Station in Oologah, Oklahoma. The system is scheduled for start-up in late 2011. It is expected to capture about 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 a year, commercially validating this technology. The CO2 captured at Northeastern Station will be used for enhanced oil recovery.

Alstom’s post-combustion process uses chilled ammonia to capture CO2. The chilled ammonia process—one of several new processes being explored for post-combustion capture—reduces the energy required to capture carbon dioxide and isolates it in a highly concentrated, high-pressure form. Studies by EPRI have indicated that ammonia scrubbing results in a 10% reduction in generated power, while the older MEA (amine scrubbing) cuts generated power by 29%.

In laboratory testing sponsored by EPRI and others, Alstom’s process has demonstrated the potential to capture more than 90% of CO2 at a cost that is less expensive than other carbon capture technologies. The isolated CO2, once captured, can be used commercially or stored in suitable underground geological sites.

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March 15, 2007 in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) | Permalink | Comments (22) | TrackBack (0)

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Well, a 10% loss of power is better than 29%, but still an awful lot. It would mean an 11% increase in the cost of electricity, even if purchase and installation of the capture equipment were free. In practice, it's probably more like a 30% increase in the COE.

Alstom and American Electric can bring the technology to "commercial scale", but whether they sell any systems remains to be seen. It depends entirely on policies that have yet to be adopted.

CO2 'harvesting' contributing an 11% increase in cost of electricity... perhaps not, the offset cost elsewhere (ie: convergence obligations) may be more expensive than 11 (or so) percent. The cost of doing nothing is inestimable.

Full marks for AEP. Their CEO is trying to make his company succeed by doing the right thing. They have also been pursuing CGCC technology despite its higher cost. I believe he is trying to be in a superior competitive position when carbon is taxed or sequestration becomes mandatory. (He would also be in a better position to make use of Greenfuel algae culture). IIRC this is in contrast with Peabody electric which has decided that money is better spent fighting legislation and continuing with business as dirty usual.

I think the GreenFuel approach is better since it turns the CO2 emissions into a source of revenue rather than something that will raise electricity rates.

My guess is the 10% power penalty does not include compressing and pumping the CO2. What if the nearest saline aquifer or oil reservoir is hundreds of kilometres away? I presume the 10% does include the energy penalty for chilling the ammonia. Which poses the question how much ammonia is vented to the atmosphere and how much does this cost to replace? Ammonia scrubbers needed perhaps.

Remember on a worldwide scale we want to to capture perhaps 10 billion tonnes of CO2 annually within 20 years. I guess saline aquifers must be in every backyard. Let's hope this lives up to the claims.

The GreenFuel approach still requires that you separate the CO2 from the stack. I wonder if the CO2 scrubbed by the ammonia is pure enough to use in a bio-reactor.

Neil:

Does it? I was unaware of that. I thought they simply fed the flue gasses directly into the bioreactor after a some scrubbing to remove any particulates.

My vision for a sustainable future is when any carbon
based energy company has to pay the cost of splitting
the CO2 molecules back to carbon and oxygen. That
expense would of course be added on to the cost of the
electricity or other products, such as steel.

Splitting CO2 into its elements is an energetically very costly way of getting it out of the atmosphere. There are minerals that, if pulverized and dispersed, will pull it down without breaking it; because they do this spontaneously, in geological time they would have eventually done so anyway, but by pulverizing them we speed up the process to match our speedup of CO2 release.

Here, I seem to recall, I worked out the pulverization energy as a fraction of the energy yielded by the fuel that makes the CO2. It's less than a fifth.

AEP gets full credit for looking into and developing these technologies. It gets a black mark for slowing the development of mandatory caps on carbon dioxide in the U.S. See slide four of this presentation.

It is very easy to estimate the cost of AGW based IPCC estimates for the next century. Zero. I did not even need my slide rule Blair.

Maybe we could use the money to educate children about environmental science rather than scub a MINOR gas in the atmosphere.

Since my electricity comes from AEP, I have invented a natural ghg gas scrubbing system that makes fertilizer at the same time. I will call it the Shade-tree-lawn-compost-to-garden system. I will calculate for Blair (again without using a slide rule), the capital cost and energy input. Ready Blair?

Zero, zip, nads, zilch!!!

EROI - infinite

For those environmental stewards who are too busy to understand the environment, ghg is natural. Man's contribution is a small, single digit %. By studying the environment, man can learn about the carbon and nitrogen cycle and provide a natural solution.

Kit P-
Is your argument that the human contribution to global CO2 concentrations is insignificant? That the ~35% jump in global CO2 concentrations neatly coinciding with the start industrial revolution is a mere coincidence? Annual anthropogenic contributions to annual global CO2 emissions may be minor in comparison to soil respiration, plant decay, etc, but the fact remains that land and ocean uptake is not keeping up with this increase.

What is one way climate scientists have verified how a lot of the [CO2] increase comes from fossil fuel combustion? Isotope ratios. Simply put, the isotope ratio of C13/C12 in fossil fuel is lower than other CO2 sources. Thus burning a lot of fossil fuels lowers the ratio of atmospheric CO2. Based on historic samples taken from tree rings, ice cores, ocean coral, and ocean sediment, it is observed that this ratio began a precipitous drop—guess when—150 years ago!

For the climate change skeptics out there, I ask you this: what key piece(s) of evidence would you require in order to be convinced that emitting GHGs are warming the planet?

You can find an excellent (peer-reviewed) explanation of the climate change from this IPCC report: www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/095.htm

Im new here. I plan on participating because these discussions are especially insightful and relevant to my occupation as an energy policy analyst. So here's my $0.02:


pete best, on 20 Feb 2007 @ 4:39 am asked the following:

Who knows about Gas as it is used for heating. I am unsure as how we can produce enough by another means to offset it.

I deal with such issues extensively. At the present, natural gas utilities typically deliver more energy to consumers than electric utilities. This is changing however, mainly because of mergers with electric utilities. Within such combination utilities, I am not aware of any instance where the gas utility dominates. Displacing natural gas with another gas (like hydrogen) face several technical and economic obstacles. What is more likely is that, over time, the direct use of natural gas will be displaced by centrally generated electricity.

A well designed passive solar home needs no other heating source. Well, maybe a well-designed wood-burning stove would be nice. Zoning rules that require proper southern orientation would be a start but developers would probably resist and money trumps "for the people".


SecularAnimist, on 20 Feb 2007 @ 3:23 pm commented (62):

A number of the corporations mentioned above are also participants in the US Climate Action Partnership, which in January called for urgent action -- including mandatory national limits on carbon emissions -- in the USA.

Have you read the US Climate Action Partnership “study”? Let me point out one of their positions that should be challenged. It’s on page 9 and states:

NEW COAL-BASED ENERGY FACILITIES & OTHER STATIONARY SOURCES
Policies are needed to speed transition to low- and zero-emission stationary sources and strongly discourage further construction of stationary sources that cannot easily capture CO2 emissions for geologic sequestration

This is a plan for an all-electric monoculture based upon a promise of capturing and sequestering CO2. Meanwhile, back on the farm, cogeneration, a technology that Edison himself started with, is deemed too dirty. If you want to generate your own power it will have to be with wind, solar and maybe a fuel cell or two. Properly designed & operated, cogeneration is 80 to 90 % efficient and emits about 40 % of the CO2 of a typical power plant. Plus, it’s relatively affordable, IF your local electric utility does not stop you with a overwhelming array of “interconnection” requirements, etc.

I’m not willing to “bet the farm” on such promises as sequestering; not even the outhouse. Anyone remember “too cheap to meter” nuclear energy? This could be worse because if you give them an inch they will (at least try to) take a mile. Ultimately, electric utilities could monopolize flame. “Hey kid, wanna buy a book of matches for $5? I got a quart of gasoline I can let go cheap. Only $20!”

Now for my personal favorites for controlling CO2 emissions:
1. Bring back Fizzies and tax belching
2. Benign aliens from outer space will save us from ourselves.

mekerbs: welcome to GCC! What is your take on Carbon Taxes?

Maxpower, no, that is not my argument. What I said was the cost of AGW is zero. This is because the climate changes slowly (no matter what the cause) and we will adapt.

Furthermore, the link that Maxpower provided did not discuss climate change but the carbon cycle. The nitrogen cycle and other GHGs is discussed in the next chapter. Anyhow, by studying natural sources and sinks of ghg; we can come up with cost effective solutions.


mekrebs , have you read National Energy Policy (May 2001)? The US has huge know reserves of natural gas.

Also, I do not remember anyone the electricity generating industry saying nuclear energy would be “too cheap to meter”. Nor do I remember anyone the electricity generating industry promising to sequester CO2.

Kit: If there are large reserves of NG in the US then they must be more expensive to recover. Insiders I've talked to have indicated that easy gas in N.A. has already peaked (note that this is not world production) and that we'll be importing our gas with the large fleet of NG ships currently being built. It's only because we've had a couple of warm winters that we've had enough NG to get through the winter without a bit of a pinch. Pipelines from the North are in the works but are still many years awasy.

Neil, apparently it is politically more expensive to drill for natural gas in the US than to drive LNG tankers into US ports. Go figure!!!

Hopefully, we will have the political will to build coal and nuke plants to retire the LNG tankers (again).

PacificCorp has some choice words about California competing with Spain for LNG to make electricity rather than use really cheap Powder River Basin coal.

For those who do not like coal and nuke plants. I hope you love LNG tankers.

When I look at NG reserves, we always seem to be about 10 years from running out. I believe this was the case in the early 1970s as well. This might mean that they are discovering enough to meet the growth.

The red flag I see is Canada using NG to process oil sands and not exporting as much to the U.S. I would much rather make SNG from biomass than import NG in tankers.

The plants taking in the CO2 is a good way to go. I you want to reverse things, make hydrogen from biomass for power plants and sequester the CO2.

Either way, the drop off for NG at end of life is more like a cliff. Oil fields show you signs ahead of time, NG fields do not.

Also, using techniques to extend production at oil wells do not work for NG wells. You can not use water nor CO2 to force out more with NG.

Max:

Nope. Antropogenic CO2 emissions from combustion of fossil fuels really accelerated in about 1950’s, from 16 Gt C/year in 1950 to 65 Gt C/year at 1998:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Global_Carbon_Emission_by_Type.png

It is 50 years late from when atmospheric CO2 concentrations began to rise noticeably and 150 years late when global temperatures began to rise noticeably.

Start of Industrial Revolution in Britain has nothing to do with noticeable increase of GLOBAL antropogenic CO2 emissions. Explanation that before start of massive fossil fuel combustion in 1950’s antropogenic CO2 emissions could be attributed to changes in land use (deforestation to clear the land for farming) is pure propaganda speculation unsupported by any quantative scientific evidence.

Isotopic evidence you are refer to points out quite conclusively that rise in CO2 levels, occurred long before humankind began pumping out fossil fuel CO2, should be attributed to natural sources. Science is not settled on this very complicated matter, but so far the main candidate for emission of CO2 with ancient isotopic signature is deep-ocean deposits of organic and bicarbonate carbon deposits.

The GreenFuel approach that some of you have referred to is most likely a scam:

http://algae-thermodynamics.blogspot.com/

Alstom has always been at the forefront of eco-wise technology developments. The chilled amonia development will significantly improve the living quality of many people in the developed and undeveloped world. For example, Alstom in Peru , has plans to put in practice this technology in a powerplant.

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