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DOE to award up to $14M to 6 new projects to advance IGCC with carbon capture technology for coal-fired plants

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to $14 million to six projects aimed at developing technologies to lower the cost of producing electricity in integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plants using carbon capture. The selected projects are intended to improve the economics of IGCC plants and promote the use of the US’ abundant coal resources.

Compared to traditional power plants, IGCC power plants offer many advantages, including increased power plant efficiency. Higher efficiencies mean that less fuel is used to generate power, in turn resulting in better economics, which can mean lower costs to consumers and the formation of fewer harmful pollutants. For example, a 60%-efficient gasification power plant can cut the formation of carbon dioxide by 40% compared to a typical coal combustion plant, the DOE said.

The six projects will promote the commercialization of IGCC with carbon capture by advancing technologies to make the process more economical. The projects support the Department’s goal of using gasification to provide power from coal with 90% carbon capture, utilization, and storage at minimal increase in the cost of electricity.

The projects, which will be managed by DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, are:

  • Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. Slurries of liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) and low-rank coal can potentially lower the cost and increase the efficiency of IGCC power plants with carbon capture. The Electric Power Research Institute will confirm the potential advantages of these slurries by conducting plant-wide technical and economic simulations, developing a preliminary design and cost estimate of a slurry preparation and mixing system, and performing laboratory tests for increasing the knowledge and understanding of maximum solids loading capability for three coals.

    EPRI will team with Dooher Institute of Physics and Energy, Worley Parsons Group, Inc., Columbia University, and ATS Rheosystems/REOLOGICA. (DOE share: $817,316; recipient share: $204,329; duration: 12 months)

  • TDA Research, Inc. Teaming with the University of California at Irvine, Southern Company, and ConocoPhillips, TDA Research will demonstrate the technical and economic viability of a new IGCC power plant designed to efficiently process low-rank coals. The plant uses an integrated CO2 scrubber/water gas shift (WGS) catalyst to capture more than 90% of the CO2 emissions, while increasing the cost of electricity by less than 10 percent compared to a plant with no carbon capture. The team will optimize the sorbent/catalyst and process design, and assess the efficacy of the integrated WGS catalyst/CO2 capture system, first in bench-scale experiments and then in a slipstream field demonstration using actual coal-derived synthesis gas.

    The results will feed into a techno-economic analysis to estimate the impact of the WGS catalyst/CO2 capture system on the thermal efficiency of the plant and cost of electricity. (DOE share: $500,000; recipient share: $125,000; duration: 12 months)

  • General Electric Company. The use of the nation’s large reserves of low-cost, low-rank coals in IGCC systems is currently limited by the capabilities of available coal feed systems. General Electric and partner Eastman Chemical Company will evaluate and demonstrate the benefits of novel dry-feed technologies to effectively, reliably, and economically feed low-rank coal into commercial IGCC systems. Investigators will complete comparative techno-economic studies of two IGCC power plant cases, one without and one with advanced dry feed technologies.

    The study will focus on IGCC systems with 90% carbon capture, but the dry feed system will be applicable to all IGCC power generating plants and other industries requiring pressurized syngas. (DOE share: $695,194; recipient share: $173,798; duration: 12 months)

  • Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. Downstream processing of syngas for CO2 capture requires separation of the crude stream into the desired products (hydrogen and carbon monoxide), a sulfur stream (primarily hydrogen sulfide), and sequestration-ready CO2. Air Products has developed a three-step process to accomplish this separation at lower cost and greater efficiency than currently available technologies.

    Working with the Energy and Environmental Research Center at the University of North Dakota, Air Products and Chemicals will extensively test the process and use the results to generate a high-level pilot process design and to prepare a techno-economic assessment to evaluate the applicability of the technology to plants using low-rank coals. (DOE share: $799,944; recipient share: $199,986; duration: 12 months)

  • Reaction Engineering International (REI). In an IGCC plant, syngas coolers—heat exchangers located between the coal gasifier and the combustion turbine—offer high efficiency, but their reliability is generally lower than other process equipment in the gasification island. Downtime events associated with the syngas cooler are typically a result of ash deposits. REI, along with researchers from the University of Utah, will evaluate ash deposition and plugging in industrially relevant syngas cooler designs and evaluate methods to mitigate fouling and plugging.

    Improving the performance of the syngas cooler through reduced plugging and fouling will improve the reliability, availability and maintainability of IGCC plants. (DOE share: $702,186; recipient share: $175,865; duration: 24 months)

  • General Electric Company. General Electric and partner Eastman Chemical Company will work on the following four tasks, which were selected based on their broad applicability to the IGCC industry to better benefit the public: integrated operations philosophy, modularization of gasification/IGCC plant, active fouling removal, and continuous slag handling. (DOE share: $7,685,969; recipient share: $1,921,492; duration: 36 months)



I notice GE in here twice.

Do they still have plants in the US?

When Obama named Immelt chairman of the new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness I think it was because he wanted some input from foreign industry.

A lot of houses are for sale now, including the the White House


If a plant can achieve 90% CO2 capture, a 10% feed of e.g. torrefied biomass makes it carbon-neutral.

Something I'd like to see is these plants becoming truly integrated. Right now they are stand-alone, connecting only via the electrical grid. But a plant which produces hydrogen to burn in gas turbines does not have to burn it at the same site as the gasifiers; the H2 could be piped downtown, to burn in local plants with heat recovery for district heating. The savings in heating fuel would reduce net fuel demand and emissions to less than zero compared to the electric plant separately.


very funny, and sadly very true.


Spend it all while you can Obama! Spend it all! Got to take care of those cronies & union thugs!

Bob Wallace

First, this is a tiny, tiny bit of money.

Second, try to understand part of the way President Obama deals with the opposition. He does not confront them head on but makes small moves that seem to support them and that leaves them unable to attack him for opposing their ideas.

Look at how he has handled coal and nuclear powers. He included nuclear and clean coal on the lists of future energy sources, but he does essentially nothing to boost them.

It's more of a jujitsu move than a lead with your chin.

The funds over which PBO has control (remember, Congress does the appropriating) have been funneled to wind, solar, EV batteries - clean tech stuff.

The military (under CinC PBO) has just announced a huge rooftop solar build out. It will double the amount of rooftop solar in the US.

PBO raised the MPG requirements by a large percentage which both forces conservation and encourages EV development.

PBO took stimulus money meant to help save US car manufacturing and turned it into a way to not only save car companies, but also get the most inefficient cars off the road.

PBO has made a lot of visits to factories that build wind turbines and solar panels. I'm unaware of him visiting a nuclear reactor site or coal plant.

Account Deleted

CO2 capture from coal power plants does not and will never make sense neither from an economic point of view nor from en environmental point of view as there are less costly and greener alternatives available.

Some data:

CO2 emissions per kW/h produced
Coal power: 900 grams
Natural gas power: 400 grams
Wind power: 12 grams
Solar power: 28 grams

Source see page 21 here

The cost of CO2 capture per ton is currently 150 USD according to US department of energy (see link below). In other words, in order to make the above power sources CO2 neutral you will need to spend as follows:

Cost of CO2 capture per kW/h produced:
Coal power: 0.135 USD (= 150 / (1000/0.9))
Natural gas power: 0.06 USD (= 150 / (1000/0.4))
Wind power: 0.0018 USD (= 150 / (1000/0.012))
Solar power: 0.0042 USD (= 150 / (1000/0.028))

Cost of producing electricity without any CO2 capture and assuming 90% capacity utilization for coal and gas is roughly:
Coal power: 0.04 USD
Natural gas power: 0.06 USD
Wind power: 0.07 USD
Solar power: 0.15 USD

Combined cost of electricity with CO2 capture per kWh:
Coal power: 0.175 USD
Natural gas power: 0.12 USD
Wind power: 0.0718 USD
Solar power: 0.1542 USD

So the conclusion is that currently the most economically doable and sustainable power producing system is one that uses wind power for base load and uses natural gas for backup power and also hydropower if available. Moreover, wind power is available in all countries in quantities that far exceed the possible consumption. Wind power is also not yet a mature power technology why we should expect its cost to decrease significantly as its technology is further developed.



The only problem is that to use wind as base load you have to install far more capacity than with coal, so your figures aren't at all accurate.

Bob Wallace

This figure is incorrect - Coal power: 0.04 USD.

That is the price of extracting, shipping and burning coal.

That number does not include the costs created by smokestack emissions. We pay far more per kWh in our health insurance premiums and taxes than we do at the meter for coal. We're paying as much as another $0.18/kWh in hidden subsidies when we burn coal.

The hidden costs of burning coal make it one of our most expensive sources of electricity.

At this point in time wind plus enough storage make it 24/365 would be cheaper than burning coal.

Solar is very rapidly falling in price and should soon be the low cost provider for middle of the day power.

Geothermal is around $0.085/kWh which makes it another financial player in the mix. Tidal is on path to be yet another affordable input to the mix.

Account Deleted

Accounting for capacity does not change the conclusion. It will only strengthen it. For instance, operating a natural gas power plant as a backup power plant in a system where wind functions as base load will decrease its capacity factor to say 35% instead of the 90% that was the basis for the stated cost per kW/h of 0.06 USD. Lower capacity factor will increase the cost per kW/h for gas power but the cost will increase more for a coal power plant as the capital costs are 2 to 3 times higher for a coal power plant than for a natural gas power plant of similar capacity (see source below). Operated at 35% capacity gas power is cheaper than coal power also operated at 35% capacity even if the cost of CO2 capture is ignored. This cost advantage of gas power over coal power for low capacity factors is the key reason that gas power is always preferred for peak power services.

The cost of wind power per kW/h stays the same as it will always produce at its full potential given by the weather as its marginal kW/h costs are close to zero because its fuel (the wind) is costless.

The conclusion therefore stays the same, namely, that the least costly and sustainable power producing system is one that uses wind power for base load and uses natural gas (or biogas) for backup power and also hydropower if available. However, such a sustainable system will still be more expensive to operate than a non-sustainable system based on coal power for base load and gas power for peak load. With current technology the average cost per kWh in a sustainable power system will be about 0.085 USD whereas it is only about 0.05 USD in a non-sustainable system.


The cost I gave for coal power at 0.04 USD per kWh was not intended to include the external costs at all. I agree that coal power adds substantial health care related costs caused by its mercury, SOX and NOX pollution. However, its CO2 emission is really the most problematic in the long-run as it will completely change this planets climate and that is certain to have huge and serious consequences for all ecosystems.


If you charged $.18/kWh for the externalities of coal, utilities would be building nuclear plants like there was no tomorrow.

Henrik, "wind power for base load" is an oxymoron. Base load is something with 90+% availability. Wind by itself isn't it.


$14M may seem small to some (I, for one, have almost this much in pocket change this very minute), but there are many, many more like this, all with more bureaucrats that are paid to spend it.

On the bright side, the national debt, the size of the budget imbalance and the allocated future spending make this look more vanishingly small by the hour.

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