NRG and Powerspan Announce Large-Scale Demonstration of Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) for Coal-Fired Power Plants
|Layout of an integrated ECO-ECO2 installation for pollution control and carbon capture. Click to enlarge.|
NRG Energy, Inc. and Powerspan Corp. will work together to demonstrate at commercial scale Powerspan’s ammonia-based carbon dioxide capture technology, called ECO2 (earlier post) from a conventional coal-fired electric power plant.
Under a memorandum of understanding, NRG and Powerspan will design, construct, and operate a 125-MW CO2 capture facility at the WA Parish Plant and supply the captured CO2 for safe transportation and permanent geological storage in order to demonstrate the technical, economic, and environmental performance of a large-scale CCS system that potentially could be deployed on existing coal-fueled generating facilities globally.
NRG will work with government and non-government entities to provide additional funding for the project.
To date, CO2 capture demonstrations on coal-fueled power plants have been conducted only at a pilot scale of 1 to 5 MW. This carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) demonstration is expected to capture and sequester about one million tons of CO2 annually, ranking it among the world’s largest CCS projects and potentially the first to achieve commercial scale capture and sequestration from an existing coal-fueled power plant.
Once captured, the CO2 is expected to be used in enhanced oilfield recovery operations in the Houston area. Powerspan’s ECO2 demonstration facility will be designed to capture 90% of incoming CO2 and is expected to be operational in 2012.
According to research conducted by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and others on the use of aqueous ammonia systems such as ECO2 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.
The ECO2 technology is suitable for retrofit to the existing coal-fueled, electric generating fleet as well as for new coal-fueled plants. The regenerative process is readily integrated downstream with Powerspan’s patented Electro-Catalytic Oxidation, or ECO, process for multi-pollutant control of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), mercury, and fine particulate matter from power plants.
Under a cooperative research and development agreement announced in May 2004, Powerspan is collaborating with the US Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory on the development of the CO2 removal process for coal-fueled power plants. The CO2 capture takes place after the NOx, SO2, mercury and fine particulate matter are captured. Once the CO2 is captured, the ammonia-based solution is regenerated to release CO2 and ammonia. The ammonia is recovered and sent back to the scrubbing process, and the CO2 is in a form that is ready for geological storage. Ammonia is not consumed in the scrubbing process, and no separate by-product is created. The process can be applied to both existing and new coal-fueled power plants and is particularly advantageous for sites where ammonia-based scrubbing of power plant emissions is employed.
In August, BP Alternative Energy and Powerspan Corp. announced they would work together to develop and commercialize the ECO2 technology.
Initial pilot scale testing of the ECO2 technology is scheduled to begin in early 2008 at FirstEnergy’s R.E. Burger Plant. This pilot will process a 1-megawatt (MW) slipstream drawn from the outlet of the 50-MW Burger Plant ECO commercial unit. It will be designed to capture 90% of incoming CO2 (20 tons of sequestration-ready CO2 per day). The pilot will provide CO2 to the Department of Energy-sponsored Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP) project for on-site sequestration in an 8,000 foot well, drilled at the Burger Plant in early 2007.