DOE Officially Launches FutureGen: Integrated Hydrogen, Electric Power and Carbon Sequestration Initiative
|FutureGen systems. Click to enlarge.|
The US Department of Energy has signed an agreement with the FutureGen Industrial Alliance to build FutureGen, a prototype coal-based plant intended to establish the technical feasibility, economic viability and broad acceptance of co-producing electricity and hydrogen from coal with essentially zero emissions, including carbon dioxide (sequestration).
The FutureGen plant will be sized to generate approximately 275 megawatts of electricity, which is roughly equivalent to a medium-size coal-fired power plant and sufficient to supply electricity to approximately 275,000 average U.S. households. Carbon dioxide sequestration will be in the range of 1 to 2 million metric tons annually.
The signing of the agreement marks the official kick-off for the Project. Over the next year, site selection, design activities, and environmental analyses will lay the groundwork for final project design, construction, and operation.
The FutureGen Industrial Alliance will contribute $250 million to the project. Current Alliance members are: American Electric Power (Columbus, Ohio); BHP Billiton (Melbourne, Australia); CONSOL Energy Inc. (Pittsburgh, Pa.); Foundation Coal (Linthicum Heights, Md.); China Huaneng Group (Beijing, China); Kennecott Energy (Gillette, Wyo.); Peabody Energy (St. Louis, Mo.); and Southern Company (Atlanta, Ga.).
The Industrial Alliance plans to issue a site selection solicitation in early 2006, to develop a short list of the most qualified candidate sites by mid-2006, and to make a final site selection in mid to late 2007.
FutureGen—which will begin operation around 2012—may represent one of the best opportunities for accelerating the development and adoption of low-emissions Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) technology.
Gasification converts the coal into a highly enriched hydrogen gas, which can be burned much more cleanly than directly burning the coal itself. Alternatively, the hydrogen can be used in a fuel cell to produce electricity, or fed to a refinery to help upgrade petroleum products.
In the future, the plant could also become a model hydrogen-production facility to fuel hydrogen-powered cars and trucks.
FutureGen will be designed to capture carbon dioxide and sequester it in deep underground geologic formations. The initial goal will be to capture 90% of the plant’s carbon dioxide, but capture of nearly 100% may be possible with more advanced technologies.
Once captured, the carbon dioxide will be injected as a compressed liquid-like fluid deep underground, perhaps into saline reservoirs thousands of feet below the surface of much of the United States.
It may also be injected into oil or gas reservoirs, or into unmineable coal seams, to enhance petroleum or coalbed methane recovery. The project will include an intensive measurement and monitoring effort to verify the efficacy of carbon sequestration.
The FutureGen Initiative was initially announced by President Bush in February 2003. The project is being funded through the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and will be managed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory.