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DOE awards ~$25M to 8 projects for CO2 capture and compression; $15M for novel Direct Fuel Cell system

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has selected eight projects to receive almost $25 million in funding to construct small- and large-scale pilots for reducing the cost of CO2 capture and compression through DOE’s Carbon Capture Program. More than half of the funding ($15 million) will go to FuelCell Energy for a pilot scale project using one of the company’s Direct Fuel Cells for carbon capture and compression.

The DOE’s Carbon Capture Program consists of two core research technology areas, post-combustion capture and pre-combustion capture, and also supports related CO2 compression efforts. Current research and development efforts are advancing technologies that could provide step-change reductions in both cost and energy penalty compared to currently available technologies.

The selected projects focus on advancing the development of a suite of post-combustion CO2 capture and supersonic compression systems for new and existing coal-based electric generating plants, specifically: (1) supersonic compression systems; (2) small pilot-scale (from 0.5 to 5 MWe) post-combustion CO2 capture development and testing; and (3) large pilot-scale (from 10 to more than 25 MWe) post-combustion CO2 capture development and testing.

FuelCell Energy CEPACS. FuelCell Energy Inc. will design, fabricate, and test a small pilot-scale system that incorporates FuelCell Energy’s combined electric power and CO2 separation (CEPACS) system, based on electrochemical membrane (ECM) technology, to separate at least 90% of CO2 from a 3 MWe equivalent slipstream of pulverized coal plant flue gas and achieve 95% CO2 purity at a cost of $40/tonne of CO2 captured and at a cost of electricity 30% less than baseline CO2 capture approaches.

The project will install and operate a two-megawatt Direct FuelCell (DFC) system configured for carbon capture in addition to power generation. The carbon capture fuel cell system will be a modification of the Company’s commercial DFC3000 fuel cell power plant and will be installed next to an existing coal-fired power plant.

In a typical DFC application, natural gas is combined with ambient air for the fuel cell power generation process. The DFC is based on carbonate fuel cell technology, where electrochemical reactions are supported by an electrolyte layer in which carbonate ions serve as the ion bridge that completes the electrical circuit. Carbonate ion transfer supports the electrochemical reaction of hydrogen at anodes and oxygen at cathodes, creating a cycle of CO2 production at the anode and CO2 consumption at the cathode.

Source: FuelCell Energy. Click to enlarge.

In other words, CO2 introduced at the air electrode is converted to carbonate ions and transferred through the electrolyte layer to the fuel electrode, where it is converted back to CO2.

A DFC stack can thus be used as a carbon purification membrane—transferring CO2 from a dilute oxidant stream to a more concentrated fuel exhaust stream, allowing the CO2 to be easily and affordably removed for sequestration or industrial use. Further, approximately 70% of smog producing nitrogen oxide (NOx) is destroyed, supporting clean air initiatives, such as the US Clean Power Plan.

In the standard DFC system, a gaseous hydrocarbon fuel is sent to the anodes and reformed to hydrogen. Most of the hydrogen is consumed in the anode power production reaction. The anode exhaust contains residual hydrogen, any CO2 from the input fuel, and the CO2 produced as a result of the carbonate ion transfer.

The anode exhaust is mixed with fresh air and sent to a catalytic oxidizer, where the residual hydrogen is used to heat the oxidant stream up to the stack temperature. The cathode consumes oxygen from the air and the CO2 from the carbonate ion transfer. Water vapor, residual oxygen, nitrogen and the CO2 from the input fuel pass through the cathode to the system exhaust.

The modification for carbon capture involves cooling the anode exhaust and separating most of the CO2 from the exhaust stream. Since most of the CO2 is removed from the anode exhaust, the CO2 needed for the cathode reaction is provided by the exhaust of the external source. Source: FuelCell Energy. Click to enlarge.

Successful pilot-scale validation of the CEPACS system is expected to pave the path toward commercial deployment of cost-effective ECM technology for large scale coal-based carbon capture applications by 2025. The project partner is AECOM. Total funding for the project is $23,728,906, with $8,728,906 of non-DOE funding.

The initial installation under this project represents the first of an expected two-hase project at the selected site. The second phase, to follow this DOE project, would be to install eleven additional fuel cell power plants to capture approximately 700 tons/day of CO2 in total, while simultaneously generating about 648,000 kilowatt hours/day of ultra-clean power.

Click to enlarge.

Supersonic CO2 compression. The next largest award, for $4 million, goes to Dresser-Rand Company to design, build, and test a pilot-scale, supersonic CO2 compressor applicable to new and existing coal-based electric generating plants. The major benefits of the supersonic compressor include reduced capital costs, smaller footprint, and reduced parasitic plant impact. The compressor will also help to save and expand a compressor manufacturing and technology base in the United States, creating economic opportunity and jobs. Total funding is $7,999,688, with $3,999,688 of non-DOE funding.

Large Pilot-Scale Post-Combustion Capture. The projects selected under the Large Pilot-Scale Area of Interest were only selected for Phase 1. In FY2016, the recipients will submit their Phase 2 application to be considered for the full project.

  • Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois will capture approximately 500 tonnes per day of CO2 with a 90% capture rate from existing coal-fired boilers at the Abbott Power Plant on the campus of the University of Illinois using Linde/BASF’s cost-effective, energy-efficient, compact amine-based advanced CO2 capture absorption system. The successful completion of this project is expected to have significant impact on the speed of commercialization of this advanced solvent-based CO2 capture technology, and thereby meet the anticipated need for such plants beyond 2020. Partners are the Linde Group, BASF, Burns & McDonnell, and Affiliated Engineers Inc. Cost: DOE: $1,000,000/ Non-DOE: $302,085/ Total Funding: $1,302,085

  • University of Kentucky Research Foundation will design, fabricate, install, and test a large-pilot facility that will illustrate an innovative carbon capture system integrated with an operating power plant. The novel concepts used in this project will improve the overall plant efficiency when integrated with a CO2 capture system and can be utilized to retrofit existing coal-fired power plants. Partners are Electric Power Research Institute, Koch Modular Process Systems, WorleyParsons, Smith Management Group, and CMTA Consulting Engineers. Cost: DOE: $999,070/ Non-DOE: $250,716/ Total Funding: $1,249,786

  • NRG Energy Inc. will team with Inventys to install Inventys’s VeloxoTherm post-combustion project at one of its Gulf Coast coal plants to process a 10 MWe slipstream of coal flue gas to separate the CO2. This project is intended to prove that the cost of capture, both from an upfront capital requirement as well as from an operating standpoint, is lower using this new post-combustion capture process when compared to existing baseline technologies. A secondary benefit is to show that this technology has a reduced footprint in comparison to competing baseline technologies. Cost: DOE: $1,000,000/ Non DOE: $250,000/ Total Funding: $1,250,000

  • Alstom Power Inc. will conduct a 3-year large-scale pilot-plant program to implement several concepts for improving the attractiveness and lowering the overall cost of Alstom’s chilled ammonia process (CAP) CO2 capture technology. Alstom’s CAP has shown the ability to achieve greater than 90% CO2 capture while producing a high purity CO2 product stream. Partners are Technology Centre Mongstad, Georgia Institute of Technology, General Electric Power & Water—Purecowater, and ElectroSep Inc. Cost: DOE: $922,709/ Non-DOE: $324,195/ Total Funding: $1,246,904

  • Southern Company Services (SCS) will test improvements to CCS processes using an existing 25 MWe, amine-based CO2 capture process at SCS’s Plant Barry. The project will address key technical challenges of current CCS technologies, including high steam consumption, solvent degradation due to flue gas contaminants, and large process footprints. The project researchers aim to improve upon the current state of the art of solvent-based processes by making significant progress towards meeting DOE’s goals. Partners are AECOM and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America. Cost: DOE: $707,207/ Non-DOE: $141,441/ Total Funding: $848,648

  • General Electric Company—GE Global Research (Oklahoma City, OK) will do validation testing of its aminosilicone CO2 capture system, a non-aqueous chemical solvent, at large pilot-scale at an operating plant. A successful test will achieve two important results: (1) a closed heat and material balance that will validate performance claims, and (2) sustained operation and performance that will de-risk the technology. A validated aminosilicone system will represent a value proposition relative to aqueous amines in certain applications and enable commercial deployments on a short time frame. Partner is CO2 Capture Centre Mongstad. Cost: DOE: $982,040/ Non-DOE: $245,510/ Total Funding: $1,227,550



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