The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has launched a new National Carbon Capture Center (NCCC) to speed up the development and testing of new technologies to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-based power plants, tapping Southern Company Services Inc. to manage and operate the center.
The NCCC will focus national efforts on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through technological innovation, and serve as a test center for emerging carbon capture technologies. The DOE says the center will enable testing and analysis of large-scale research and development to provide data under real operating conditions. The five-year project promises both advancements in technology, and the creation of nearly 170 jobs.
Southern Company will manage the NCCC at the Power Systems Development Facility (PSDF) in Wilsonville, Ala. Established by DOE in cooperation with Southern Company, the PSDF claims a consistent record of testing, development and scale-up of numerous advanced coal-based power generation technologies, many of which are now entering commercial deployment, according to the DOE.
The PSDF facility already has an existing coal gasifier and combustor in place, and offers multiple slip-stream capabilities for testing candidate processes, with the ability to investigate different ranks of coal, biomass, and other fuels. In addition, multiple projects can be tested in parallel with a wide range of testing equipment, and long-term testing is also available to establish the durability and reliability of new technologies.
Technology development will include both pre- and post-combustion CO2 capture. The pre-combustion CO2 capture component will be located at the PSDF, and the post-combustion component will be developed at Plant Gaston, an Alabama Power coal-fueled generating plant adjacent to the PSDF.
Other participants in the NCCC project include American Electric Power, Luminant, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Arch Coal, Peabody Energy, and RioTinto. The center anticipates adding more partners.
EPRI has already begun work on carbon capture technologies. As an example, in January, five electric utilities in the U.S. and Canada joined EPRI to host studies on the impacts of retrofitting carbon capture technology to existing coal-fired power plants. In addition, EPRI, Alsom and We Energies announced their first pilot project in February that uses chilled ammonia to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-fueled power plants.