Ontario Planning Initiatives to Reduce Fuel Consumption and Greenhouse Gases
Electrovaya Delivers Plug-in Escape Hybrid to NYSERDA; Application of New MN-Series Li-Ion Cells

BP and Powerspan Collaborate to Demonstrate and Commercialize CO2 Capture Technology for Coal-Fired Power Plants

A NETL evaluation of an aqueous ammonia solution developed in cooperation with Powerspan found that integrated multi-pollutant reduction (Case 5) improves the cost picture without an efficiency penalty. Click to enlarge. Data: NETL

BP Alternative Energy and Powerspan Corp. are working together to develop and commercialize Powerspan’s ammonia-based carbon dioxide capture technology, called ECO2, for coal-fired power plants. The post-combustion CO2 capture process is suitable for retrofit to the existing coal-fired, electric generating fleet as well as for new coal-fired plants.

The scope of the agreement includes financial and technical support for pilot demonstration and commercial scale-up activities, which may include joint development of large-scale demonstration projects that would capture CO2 from power station flue gas. The captured CO2 would be sent for long-term storage deep underground.

The ECO2 removal process readily integrates with Powerspan’s Electro-Catalytic Oxidation (ECO) technology, which uses aqueous ammonia to absorb high levels of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and mercury. The CO2 processing steps are situated downstream of ECO’s SO2, NOx, and mercury removal steps.

According to research conducted by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and others on the use of aqueous ammonia for absorption of CO2, the traditional monoethanolamine (MEA) process for CO2 removal suffers from low CO2 loading capacity (kg CO2 absorbed per kg absorbent); high equipment corrosion rate; amine degradation by other flue gas constituents, which requires a high absorbent makeup rate; and high energy consumption during absorbent regeneration.

By comparison, aqueous ammonia processing has higher loading capacity; does not pose a corrosion problem; does not degrade in a flue gas environment, minimizing absorbent makeup; requires much less energy to regenerate; and costs much less than MEA.

Specifically, testing by NETL of an aqueous ammonia process developed with Powerspan found the following four advantages of the aqueous ammonia process compared to conventional amines:

  1. Reduced steam load (500 Btu per lb of CO2 captured);

  2. More concentrated CO2 carrier;

  3. Lower chemical cost; and

  4. Multi-pollutant control with salable by-products.

We consider Powerspan’s ECO2 technology among the most promising solutions for post combustion capture of CO2. This is an opportunity for BP to broaden the scope of our low carbon power offering by including a CO2 capture technology that is compatible with new and existing coal-fired power stations. The priority in our collaboration with Powerspan is to successfully demonstrate the technology and advance it to full-scale commercial deployment as rapidly as possible.

—Jonathan Forsyth, CO2Capture Team Leader, BP Alternative Energy

Pilot scale testing of ECO2 technology is expected to begin at FirstEnergy Corp.’s R.E. Burger plant in Shadyside, Ohio, in early 2008. The ECO2 pilot unit will process a 1-megawatt (MW) slipstream (20 tons of CO2/day) from the 50-MW Burger ECO unit.

The plan is to provide the captured CO2 for sequestration on-site in an 8,000-foot test well drilled at the Burger plant earlier this year. FirstEnergy is collaborating with the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership on the sequestration test project. The Burger pilot program could be the first such program to demonstrate both CO2 capture and sequestration at a conventional coal-fired power plant.

The ECO2 pilot program provides the opportunity to confirm process design and cost estimates. Initial estimates developed by the US Department of Energy (DOE) indicate that the ammonia-based CO2 capture process could provide significant savings compared to commercially available amine-based CO2 capture technologies.

In June, Alstom signed two development contracts for its chilled ammonia-based CO2 capture technology, one with E.ON for a power plant in Sweden, and one with Statoil for the Mongstad refinery in Norway. (Earlier post.)

In May, BP and Rio Tinto formed a new jointly-owned company, Hydrogen Energy, which will develop “decarbonized” energy projects around the world. The venture will initially focus on hydrogen-fueled power generation, using fossil fuels and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. (Earlier post.)




I wouldn't want to live downwind of this facility. The announcement is surprising as an 'expert' on TV said retrofitting was unworkable. Moreover 20 tons of CO2 a day from 24 Mwh (1 Mw X 24 hours X approx 1 ton/mwh) is comparable to claimed results from oxyfiring.

Also won't fugitive ammonia have a greenhouse impact as well as smelling bad?


It is of course vital that all ammonia be removed from the flue gas. This is done by a pretty straight-forward cleaning process.

Ammonia is used for NOx removal in hundreds of power plants worldwide without problems of ammonia slip.

The CO2 capture should be comparable to oxyfiring, except with oxyfiring it is feasible to capture 100% of the CO2, whereas chemical absorption processes capture 85-95%.

For future powerplants, oxyfiring seems like a very strong concept, but for retrofit to existing powerplants, this ammonia process (alternatively, the MEA process) is the most realistic alternative since it's just an add-on to the tail end of the power plant.

Retrofitting, however, has an enourmous energy penalty, especially due to lack of process integration with the power plant. The cost of coal electricity will roughly double. That's probably why it is deemed unworkable.

But in a CO2 tax/trading scenario, it might be feasible.

richard schumacher

That's nice. And what will they do with the CO2? Making a dent in anthropogenic global warming would require annually capturing and semi-permanently storing something like one thousand cubic miles of CO2 (at STP). Sheesh.


Have you heard of the "seven stabilization wedges"? If not, you should see this flash movie.

You might also like to read this paper.

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is but one of such wedges to stabilize CO2 emission at the current level. And it takes time to crank up these things. CO2 capture technology in coal fired powerplants involves huge machinery that takes years to build, once at suitable design has been desided upon. I should know, I work with CCS professionally...

There are lost of on-shore permanent storage sites in US - plenty for storing the amount of CO2 that is likely to be captured.

richard schumacher

Yes, indeed, there is no single solution to the carbon problem, and many partial solutions must be used. Every advocate of CCS should read that paper to better understand just how small a contribution CCS can ever realistically be hoped to make, keeping in mind that each billion tonnes (GT) of carbon burned creates 400 cubic miles (1600 cubic kilometres) of CO2.

The time and money spent designing new CCS technologies and building CCS installations would be much more effectively spent building new nuclear plants, not the least because the volume and mass of waste to be stored would be literally a billion times smaller.

Stan Peterson


Your comment:

"The time and money spent designing new CCS technologies and building CCS installations would be much more effectively spent building new nuclear plants, not the least because the volume and mass of waste to be stored would be literally a billion times smaller." is very apt.

And that is what is indeed happening. With 29 new Nukes in the pipeline to be erected, augmenting the 102 existing Nukes, nuclear power as a portion of the mix will rise in the US. Each new plant is bigger than the existing Nukes by 20-40%, the US electrical energy generation will climb to 35-40% Nuclear fission by the late teens or early 2020s.

It may in fact be more, since many more of these Nukes of the GEN III+ Passive Safety standard and pre-certified designs, may be ordered and built.

In addition, a lot of the old opposition to Nuclear power has been defused among the really thoughtful and serious critics. Many prominent environmentalists now feel the reason for originally criticizing Nuclear power have been addressed. People like Patrick Moore the founder of GreenPeace, who now advocates building Nukes when compared to other alternatives. He is not alone, either.

Furthermore, the legal tools to stall and slow construction, and drive up costs and increase uncertainty, have been pretty much removed.

Nuclear electrical power is building in lots of places out side the US too. Each will displace a significant fossil demand. Each will also remove lots of CO2 from being created.

If PHEVs come on in large numbers, the leveling of the electrical demand will drive many utilities to mothball existing coal plants and erect Nukes to replace them. the reason is the economics get increasingly better for nuclear alternatives when providing "base load" needs.

Paul Diet

Also won't fugitive ammonia have a greenhouse impact as well as smelling bad?

Ammonia, be highly soluble in water and reactive with atmospheric acid gases such as SOx, as well as being bio- and photo-degradable, does not persist in the atmosphere. I understand its mean lifetime in the atmosphere is less than ten days.

Perhaps you are refering to N2O emission from deposited ammonium ions? This is probably insignificant compared to N2O from fertilizer.

Ian Houston

CCS has been dumped by shell in the North Sea as being "not commercially viable", not too mention the safety factor.


Renewable energy from GHG.

Muhammad Naeem

im Naeem,i want to know about production of ammonium bicabonate (by absorbing CO2 in aqous ammonia).what are the reaction condistion?and detailed information about the process including flowsheet.
can any one here help me in this matter?
i will b very thankfll to him

The comments to this entry are closed.