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AEP puts Mountaineer carbon capture commercialization project on hold, citing uncertain status of climate policy, weak economy

American Electric Power is terminating its cooperative agreement with the US Department of Energy and placing its plans to advance carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) technology to commercial scale on hold, citing the current uncertain status of US climate policy and the continued weak economy as contributors to the decision. (Earlier post.)

In 2009, AEP was selected by the Department of Energy (DOE) to receive funding of up to $334 million through the Clean Coal Power Initiative to pay part of the costs for installation of a $668-million commercial-scale CCS system at AEP’s Mountaineer coal-fueled power plant in New Haven, W.Va. The system would employ Alstom Power’s chilled ammonia process (CAP) (earlier post) capture at least 90% of the CO2 from 235 MW of the plant’s 1,300 MW of capacity. The captured CO’, approximately 1.5 million metric tons per year, would be treated and compressed, then injected into suitable geologic formations for permanent storage approximately 1.5 miles below the surface.

We are placing the project on hold until economic and policy conditions create a viable path forward. With the help of Alstom, the Department of Energy and other partners, we have advanced CCS technology more than any other power generator with our successful two-year project to validate the technology. But at this time it doesn’t make economic sense to continue work on the commercial-scale CCS project beyond the current engineering phase.

We are clearly in a classic “which comes first?” situation. The commercialization of this technology is vital if owners of coal-fueled generation are to comply with potential future climate regulations without prematurely retiring efficient, cost-effective generating capacity. But as a regulated utility, it is impossible to gain regulatory approval to recover our share of the costs for validating and deploying the technology without federal requirements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions already in place. The uncertainty also makes it difficult to attract partners to help fund the industry’s share.

—Michael G. Morris, AEP chairman and CEO

Plans were for the project to be completed in four phases, with the system to begin commercial operation in 2015. AEP has informed the DOE that it will complete the first phase of the project (front-end engineering and design, development of an environmental impact statement and development of a detailed Phase II and Phase III schedule) but will not move to the second phase.

DOE’s share of the cost for completion of the first phase is expected to be approximately $16 million, half the expenses that qualify under the DOE agreement.

AEP and partner Alstom began operating a smaller-scale validation of the technology in October 2009 at the Mountaineer Plant, the first fully-integrated capture and storage facility in the world. That system captured up to 90% of the CO2 from a slipstream of flue gas equivalent to 20 MW of generating capacity and injected it into suitable geologic formations for permanent storage approximately 1.5 miles below the surface.

The validation project, which received no federal funds, was closed as planned in May after meeting project goals. Between October 2009 and May 2011, the life of the validation project, the CCS system operated more than 6,500 hours, captured more than 50,000 metric tons of CO2 and permanently stored more than 37,000 metric tons of CO2.

American Electric Power is one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states. AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 38,000 MW of generating capacity in the US. AEP also owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a nearly 39,000-mile network that includes more 765-kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other US transmission systems combined.

AEP’s transmission system directly or indirectly serves about 10% of the electricity demand in the Eastern Interconnection, the interconnected transmission system that covers 38 eastern and central US states and eastern Canada, and approximately 11% of the electricity demand in ERCOT, the transmission system that covers much of Texas.

Comments

Reel$$

"without federal requirements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions already in place. The uncertainty also makes it difficult to attract partners to help fund the industry’s share."

This arrives as nations and governments and business have come to understand the delusion of "climate change." It is just one more indication that a sense of sanity has returned to financial and political centers. We see the AGW fear campaign for what it is - a glorified psy-op that has failed.

We will transition out of fossil fuel to the new physics of non-radiative nuclear reactions at a fraction of the cost of other alternatives. LANR-CF is the new energy source on Earth. Smart people in the energy business will hustle to become manufacturers, distributors and service bureaus for the new energy economy.

Energy is abundant throughout the universe. Planet Earth is making use of it. Resistance is futile.

ai_vin

Ok Reel, it time to put some reality into your LANR-CF claims.

First off, cold fusion has NOT been suppressed for all these years. What happen was Stanley Pons and Martin Fleishmann claimed to have demonstrated the cold fusion via the deuterium-deuterium fusion pathway. The problem was that claim WAS pure bunk. If they produced watt levels of excess power they claimed they would have been pretty badly hosed by a flux of neutrons, which would have done them in. And as long as their supporters were going to make the same deuterium-deuterium claim they didn't need to be suppressed. In less than half the experiments they preformed *something* did happen, but nobody knew or could explain convincingly what, and until they could they rightfully couldn't get the mainstream interested.

Andrea Rossi and Sergio Focardi aren't making the same deuterium-deuterium claims. They have something new, er newish. They are claiming nickel-hydrogen fusion with copper as a byproduct. There are problems with this claim too.

Problem #1, this is not new physics. Metal-proton fusion is old stuff. It hasn't been suppressed either, its just that with all the different metals/isotopes to choose from why go with a darkhorse like nickel? More on this further down...

Problem #2, Andrea Rossi and Sergio Focardi were being too secretive for their own good: They would only do "black box" demonstrations so when they said they had nickel-hydrogen fusion with copper as a byproduct others try to repeat the experiment with "nickel" and hydrogen. And that's where it gets tricky.

Problem #3, most "nickel" hydrogen fusion reactions wont work as they say because most of the nickel in the world is of the wrong isotope so when others try to repeat the experiment half of them failed. For example if you tried fusing a proton to nickel-58 (the most abundant isotope of nickel, making up 68.077% of the natural abundance) it would take too much energy and you'd get an isotope of copper, copper-59, with too short of a halflife to be left in the samples that were tested for copper.

Problem #4, in order to make his experiment work Rossi, as he later admitted, had to enrich his nickel with nickel-62 and nickel-64. And as these are the rarest isotopes of nickel (nickel-64 is less than 1% of the world's supply) the amount of energy we could get from widespread useage goes down while costs go up. It currently cost $100,000 to produce a 5gram sample of nickel-64.

SJC

ai_vin,

Thanks for the explanation, I do not know much about it and have not researched it. I have been studying gasification of coal and biomass, which seems like a way to synthesize fuels for transportation. I like going with something that we can do the rest of this decade to reduce oil imports.

ai_vin

Problem #5, marketing. Rossi calls his device an Ecat because that's short for "energy catalyzer." This suggests to the layman that the nickel is only used to catalyze the hydrogen when in fact, as he says, the nickel is fused with the hydrogen. That means the usable nickel is consumed during energy production and the device has a limited lifespan. Anybody who has an issue with electric cars because they think the batteries have too limited a cyclelife is going to have simular issues with their E-Cat.

Problem #6, because the usable nickel is consumed during energy production this is a non-renewable energy source. Even if it works as they say it does, in using it we'd only be putting ourselves into the same boat our forefathers did when they started using fossil fuels.

ai_vin

One more possible problem. When Rossi finally provided a sample of nickel (that had been in his device for two & a half months) to be tested for copper it did contain 10% copper, and it was copper-62 and copper-65 (inline with the nickel-62 and nickel-64 enrichment) so the theory looks good so far. But that's not the problem, the problem is the sample also contained 11% iron. I haven't found a theory for that result.

SJC

Good science is repeatable and can be explained with conventional knowledge. I think there are events that can not be fully explained and that could lead to further discovery. To say we have found it, drop everything and bet the farm is foolish.

Reel$$

"But that's not the problem, the problem is the sample also contained 11% iron. I haven't found a theory for that result."

With respect ai_vin, so what? Are you a fusion physicist? Using climate criterion - only a fusion physicist can comment authoritatively. Of course this is the wailing of dethroned "experts" clinging to a crumbling fiefdom. You might consider that the ionic radius of divalent nickel is close to that of divalent iron and magnesium, allowing the three elements to substitute for one another in the crystal lattices of some silicates and oxides.

ai_vin subscribes to the Oppenheimer-Phillips shielding effect theory to explain in classical terms what is not yet explainable:

"It is hypothesized that this protected fusion process is responsible for transmutation of the heaviest natural nickel isotope ("Ni64") into Ni65, which through radioactive decay becomes copper-65. The important consequences of this hypothesis are that there should be byproducts (beta and gamma radiation, thermal signature and hydrogen species) that can be externally detected easily..."

Obviously ai_vin (whose stake is in "climate change") cannot stand the idea of over-unity energy seeing the light of day.

Nothing you have explained negates the fact of Rossi's demonstration of 20+ times input power. And of course you dare not discuss Randy Mills' Blacklight Power work which also uses nickel (raney nickel doped with sodium hydroxide.) Or the hundreds of corroborating experiments at dozens of labs around the world including MIT and the US Navy's SPAWAR unit at NRL.

Or that NASA Chief Scientist Dennis Bushnell has recently declared Rossi's work the number one development in energy.

With respect to non-renewable the quantity of nickel required by Dr. Mills' 50kW reactor is so small it could run for a year using his proprietary "looping" method to continue the reaction. Mills claims a chemical process with nickel catalyzing atomic H as the fuel. The H is readily available by electrolyzing water in essentially unlimited quantity. As Mills has amusingly noted to the NY Times:

"The controversy and academic debate won't stop commercialization."

http://www.blacklightpower.com/presentations/Mills_FCHE-Conference.pdf

Resistance is futile.

Reel$$

SJC you are wrong. "Good" science is not explained by "conventional" knowledge. Explain the construction of the pyramids, black holes, dark matter, nature of consciousness, frictional earthquake sliding, or the start of life on Earth using conventional knowledge. Relying on conventional anything yields a knowledge plateau.

NO ONE (especially Reel$$) advocates "drop everything and bet the farm." Obviously this is short sighted. And we have LONG advocated the energy portfolio approach which is to develop myriad solutions simultaneously. We are simply adding a new solution - LANR.

If Secretary Chu and President Obama want to position the US where we were at the announcement of the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo projects - they will announce a LANR program to fully implement the last 20 years of experimental data in commercial opportunities.

The resistance arrives from the loss of fiefdom power by orthodoxy. This is however, simply evolution. Old school knowledge gatekeepers are being selected out of human evolution. If there is a problem with that - discuss it with Darwin.

Resistance is futile.

ai_vin

With respect ai_vin, so what? Are you a fusion physicist?

No I am not, nor do I claim to be. What I should have said was I haven't found a theory given for that result. Meaning; after searching the web I haven't found anybody who has an answer as to why there'd be iron in the sample.

I won't respond to the rest of your reply out of respect - to you.

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