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coal power plant

Pilot Plant Aims to Advance Oxy-Combustion Carbon Capture

coal power plantIn an effort to advance the commercialization of a novel carbon capture technology, a 1-megawatt thermal facility to test a process to capture CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants will soon be operating in Ottawa.

The joint project between the US Department of Energy and its Canadian counterpart, Natural Resources Canada, will test oxy-fired pressurized fluidized bed combustion (oxy-PFBC). The two government agencies say this process can more efficiently and economically capture CO2 compared to other technologies, and successful results from the pilot project will help scale up the oxy-PFBC process to commercial scale.

Oxy-PFBC is based on the oxy-fuel combustion process, which uses pure oxygen instead of air to burn fuel and produces heat that generates electricity without producing other pollutants. The oxy-PFCB process improves the efficiency of this process by concentrating the CO2 produced prior to combustion of fuel in the turbine. This reduces the cost of capturing the CO2, which has been a major challenge to scaling up carbon capture technologies to the levels needed to slow global warming.

The captured CO2 from this process can then be stored or used to develop other products, including feedstock and chemicals. The DOE recently said it will award about $6.7 million to projects that convert captured carbon from coal-fired power plants into useful products such as fuel, cement or plastics.

The test plant is an ongoing collaborative project between DOE and NRCan, and its research and development lab, CanmetEnergy. The project is being led by the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) in partnership with the Linde Group, the Electric Power Research Institute, Alstom Power and Alberta Innovates. It received $13 million from the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy’s advanced combustion program.

In other efforts to more cost effectively capture carbon and turn it into useful products, Global Thermostat’s pilot plant in California has been capturing CO2 from the air, as opposed to being attached to a coal-fired power plant, since 2010. The company says its plants, which can be integrated with fossil fuel and renewable energy plants as well as manufacturing facilities, will soon move into a commercial phase.

Meanwhile Shell’s Quest carbon capture and storage project in Alberta, Canada, has captured and stored 1 million metric tons of CO2 after one year of operation, the company announced last month.
Quest is the first carbon capture and storage project to reduce carbon emissions from oil sands operations.


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