Carbon capture development for coal-fired power plants gets $41MM from DOE

Source: US Department of Energy

The US Department of Energy announced the selection of 16 projects aimed at developing advanced post-combustion technologies for capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-fired power plants. The projects, valued at $41 million over three years, are focused on reducing the energy and cost penalties associated with applying currently available carbon capture technologies to existing and new power plants.

The selections announced will focus on developing carbon capture technologies that can achieve at least 90 percent CO2 removal and reduce the added costs at power plants with carbon capture systems to no more than a 35 percent increase in the cost of electricity produced at the plant. The Obama Administration has made a goal of developing cost-effective deployment of carbon capture, utilization and storage technologies within 10 years, with an objective of bringing 5 to 10 commercial demonstration projects online by 2016.

“Charting a path toward clean coal is essential to achieving our goals of providing clean energy, creating American jobs, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It will also help position the United States as a leader in the global clean energy race,” said US Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

Existing CO2 capture technologies are not efficient when considered in the context of large power plants. Current CO2 capture systems require large amounts of energy for their operation, resulting in decreased efficiency and reduced net power output when compared to plants operating without these technologies. The net electricity produced could be significantly reduced - often referred to as parasitic loss - since 20 to 30 percent of the power generated by the plant would have to be used to capture and compress the CO2.

The goal of this research is to reduce the energy penalty with carbon capture and sequestration technologies, thereby reducing costs and helping to move the technology closer to widespread use. Post combustion CO2 capture can be applied to both new and existing plants by adding a “filter” that helps isolate the CO2 from the other gases before it leaves the plant. This “filter” can take the form of membranes, solvents and sorbents.

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