The US Department of Energy will award about $6.7 million to cost-shared projects that convert captured carbon from coal-fired power plants into useful products such as fuel, cement or plastics.
The federal funding, awarded through the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy, is part of the Carbon Storage program, which aims to advance carbon capture and storage technologies and reduce the cost of implementation so they can be commercially deployed by 2025-2035.
Carbon capture technologies are expected to help countries achieve emissions goals outlined in the Paris climate agreement and US states meet the carbon reduction targets outlined in the Clean Power Plan. But there are hurdles to making this technology widely available. A major one is the cost associated with the massive amounts of energy required to capture and store CO2 — the cost of electricity can increase by up to 80 percent when applying commercial capture technologies to coal-fired power plant, according to the IEA Clean Coal Center.
Projects seeking funding must develop CO2-utilization technologies that produce useful products at lower cost than currently available technologies, without generating additional greenhouse gas emissions. These include three types of projects:
- Biological based concepts for beneficial use of CO2. This focuses exclusively on the biological utilization of CO2 contained in flue gas exiting a desulfurization unit (prior to entering a downstream CO2-capture and -purification unit). Projects will address key technical barriers to improve the technical and economic feasibility of biological CO2 utilization and address the challenges associated with integrating biological CO2 utilization processes with coal-fired power plants.
- Mineralization concepts utilizing CO2 with industrial wastes. The objective of this is to support technology development for innovative concepts that utilize CO2 to react with industrial wastes, such as tailings from mining operations, and stabilize the CO2 in mineral form, resulting in salable products and/or recovery of valuable minerals or chemicals from these waste materials.
- Novel physical and chemical processes for beneficial use of carbon. These projects will demonstrate innovative concepts for beneficial use of CO2 via novel physical and/or chemical conversion processes, including high-energy systems and nano-engineered catalysts that can transform CO2 into valuable products and chemicals while significantly reducing energy demand for the conversion process.
In June, the DOE said it will provide $68.4 million for cost-shared research and development projects that focus on commercial-scale (50+ million metric tons) carbon capture and storage complexes.