Worcester, Mass., July 27, 2012 — ThermoEnergy Corp., a diversified technologies company involved in power generation, announced that its Unity Power Alliance joint venture has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy for a grant that will fund further R&D on the company's patented pressurized oxy-combustion technologies for the production of clean electric power from coal.
The grant will go to the Utility Power Alliance, a joint venture between ThermoEnergy Corp. (TMEN) and ITEA, S.p.A.
The technology that UPA is developing (that the DOE will support) is called pressurized oxy-combustion. The basic approach is to burn coal at high pressures in highly purified oxygen, instead of in air at normal pressure as in conventional coal plants. That increases the efficiency of power plants. More important, it allows virtually all of the pollutants, including the carbon dioxide that causes climate change, to be captured before they are emitted into the atmosphere.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is already tightening pollution regulations for coal plants and is proposing to limit carbon emissions from power plants. UPA's pressurized oxy-combustion technology will allow existing coal plants to meet both these regulations and expected tougher regulations in the future. Retrofitting existing coal plants with UPA's technology represents a $65 billion potential market.
The DOE funded research will help pave the way for a larger pilot project, which could also receive government support.
The funding for the project will be provided through DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). NETL's goal is to advance technologies that can capture 90 percent of the carbon from power plants at less than a 35 percent increase in cost of electricity.
UPA's member, ITEA, has developed a patented flameless combustion technology for coal plants and already operates a 5 MW thermal energy in Italy. ITEA has also deployed a 15 MW commercial plant in Singapore. ITEA has received support from Enel S.p.A., one of the world's largest utilities.
Other participants in the UPA Program are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Georgia Institute of Technology.