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DOE Announces $62.4M in "Clean Coal" R&D Awards

March 16, 2005 - 10:51am


Supports President Bush's Initiative to Make America Energy Independent

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman today announced the award of $62.4 million for 32 clean coal research projects to advance President George W. Bush's goal to develop a coal-fired zero emissions power plant.   This initiative will also advance other energy-related policy initiatives in energy, climate and hydrogen, including the FutureGen zero-emissions power plant of the future. 

"Coal is our most abundant fuel resource.   It's important that we find ways to use it in a cleaner, more efficient way in order to provide the energy needed to continue our economic growth and job creation," Secretary Bodman said.   "All of these projects are an investment in our Nation's energy and economic security, present and future."  

Among the objectives of the research are:

  • Improved and new methods of producing pure hydrogen in coal gasification;
  • Hydrogen handling -- safe storage of hydrogen, and on-board storage which will aid the commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles;
  • Improved and simplified removal of multiple pollutants in coal gasification;
  • Development of carbon dioxide capture technology that can be retrofit on existing coal-based power plants;
  • Expansion of carbon sequestration technology to identify and accurately assess the CO2 storage capacity of geologic formations; and,
  • Development of new alloys to advance ultra-supercritical generation with pulverized coal, an emerging newer technology that can deliver power with ultra-low emissions and ultra-high efficiency.

The projects will be managed by the DOE Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and will support NETL's Coal and Power Research and Development (R&D) program in four program areas of interest:  Carbon Sequestration; Power Systems Advanced Research; Coal Fuels and Hydrogen; and Advanced Gasification. The projects total nearly $62.4 million in government and contractor cost-shared funds, with DOE contributing approximately $48.7 million.

The Carbon Sequestration program area supports President Bush’s Global Climate Change Initiative (GCCI) goal of reducing greenhouse gas intensity by 18 percent over the next 10 years by developing technologies to capture, store, and in some cases use greenhouse gases. The eight projects will focus on direct and indirect carbon dioxide (CO2) capture technologies; technologies for mitigating non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions; and monitoring, verification and risk assessment for carbon sequestration options.

The overall goal of the Power Systems Advanced Research program area is to develop the scientific knowledge base for the development of revolutionary technologies and processes with substantial improvements and advances in power, environmental, and fuel systems.   As part of the DOE effort to improve the Nation’s energy infrastructure -- which includes power plants, power transmission systems, and fuel production and transportation systems -- eight projects will focus on developing novel high temperature materials for in situ sensing devices, materials for ultra supercritical steam (USC) turbines, and advanced power plant simulation. 

The Coal Fuels and Hydrogen program sponsors coal-based research in development of processes to produce clean liquid transportation fuels and hydrogen, more efficient processes for manufacturing carbon products and chemicals, and advanced separation processes.  Twelve projects will focus on  hydrogen storage, production of high hydrogen content coal-derived liquids, process intensification, advanced water-gas shift membrane reactors, advanced solvents and solid sorbents-based separation systems, advanced fuels research, and advanced solid separation technologies.

Advanced Gasification research will focus on integrated sulfur, ammonia and chloride removal and integrated multiple contaminant removal of mercury, arsenic, selenium and cadmium. Four projects have been awarded in this area.

Awards in the four research areas are described in detail below:

Carbon Sequestration

  • Southern Research Institute (Birmingham, Ala.)—Oxygen-fired CO2-recycle combustion will be extensively investigated to develop a complete, fundamental understanding of the most effective methods of retrofitting this technology to existing air-blown coal-fired boilers with a minimum capital expenditure. The detailed quantitative experimental map developed through the research will promote the commercialization of this technology and enable optimized implementation of oxy-fired CO2 recycle to obtain maximum benefit.   Team members   include   BOC Gases, Murray Hill, N. J.; Maxon Corp., Muncie, Ind.; Reaction Engineering International, Salt Lake City, Utah; and FirstEnergy, Akron, Ohio. (DOE share: $863,724; Project duration: 36 months)
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Mich.)—A combination of laboratory and field experiments will be performed to develop effective, efficient and economic methodologies that will minimize microbial production of nitrous oxide and maximize microbial consumption of methane in landfill cover soils.  This project will determine what suite of geochemical parameters should be provided to minimize the net emission of methane and nitrous oxidein situ. A matrix of soil microcosms will be constructed with landfill cover soils and exposed to a range of geochemical parameters that are known to affect methane and nitrous oxide production and consumption. Then,the suite of geochemical conditions noted to cause the greatest net reduction in greenhouse gases will be applied at a landfill in southern Michigan to verify that (1) such conditions can be easily and inexpensively maintained using simple application strategies, and (2) that such treatments will reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions over larger areas. (DOE share: $501,205; Project duration: 36 months)
  • University of Delaware (Newark, Del.)—Researchers will demonstrate the Intelligent Bioreactor Management Information System (IBM-IS) for the control of fugitive landfill gas emissions from an anaerobic bioreactor landfill. IBM-IS is a computer-controlled program that manages a network of automated sensors (e.g., gas pressure transducers) and control points (e.g., valves) to manage and control landfill gas extraction and liquid addition. The utility of the IBM-IS approach will also be evaluated for the control of an aerobic bioreactor landfill, where the objective is to maximize biodegradation and minimize the formation of methane by controlled injection of air and liquids. New in situ measurement techniques will be coupled with new and existing computer models of landfill processes in the demonstration of the IBM-IS.  Team members include Yolo County, Calif., Planning and Public Works Department, Division of Integrated Waste Management, Woodland, Calif.; Institute for Environmental Management, Inc. (IEM), Palo Alto, Calif.; and Hydro Geo Chem Inc., Tucson, Ariz..  (DOE share: $599,373; Project duration: 36 months)
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.)—The research objective is to design a tarp impregnated with immobilized methane oxidizing bacteria and then field test it for use as an alternative daily cover that can reduce methane emissions during the active life of a landfill. The project team will evaluate a number of methods for bacteria immobilization to identify suitable strategies for maintaining methane oxidizers in a tarp matrix; design the tarp, and investigate various matrix options to support and sustain the microbes in a material that can also serve as alternative daily landfill cover. The work will result in at least three promising prototypes which will be field tested, and the results of the field tests will be used to assess the prototypes and recommend one of the designs for further development and full-scale field testing. Team members include Landfills+ Inc., Wheaton, Ill.; Ten Cate Nicolon, Pendergrass, Ga.; and BFI CMS Landfill, Concord, N.C. (DOE share: $417,645; Project duration: 36 months)
  • Battelle Memorial Institute (Columbus, Ohio)— The overall objectives of this work are to develop an improved understanding of the geologic formations in the midwestern U.S. and, in the process, identify formations of interest for CO2 storage and determine the geologic patterns in their regional distribution.  These formations may represent potential storage reservoirs or containment layers.  The emphasis in developing this framework will be on obtaining information needed for quantitative assessment of geologic storage potential such as formation thickness, structural controls, permeability, and porosity data.  Ultimately the comprehensive assessment of the compiled data along with knowledge of the sedimentary history of the area can be used to develop models and improve predictability of sequestration targets in this region.  The project supports DOE’s overall goal of developing safe, effective, and low-cost geologic sequestration options and specifically helps with measurement and verification of the geologic storage potential in a critically important region that is heavily dependent on coal-based power generation. (DOE share: $1,819,700; Project duration: 36 months)
  • Geological Survey of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)—The objectives of the project are to develop software for the assessment of risks associated with carbon sequestration in coal and to use that software to assess risks associated with carbon sequestration and enhanced coalbed methane recovery in the Black Warrior basin. The primary tasks of the project are software development, fracture analysis, and Discrete Fracture Network (DFN)/flow modeling. Fractures in outcrops and wireline cores from the Black Warrior basin will be analyzed to determine statistical scaling rules and to construct DFN models of coal-bearing strata. Short- and long-term leakage risks posed by carbon sequestration and enhanced coalbed methane recovery operations will then be analyzed on the basis of the DFN models and flow models.Team members include the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Ala.; and Jim Walter Resources, Inc., Brookwood, Ala.. (DOE share: $399,889; Project duration: 36 months)
  • University of Kentucky Research Foundation (Lexington, Ky.)—Researchers will measure and document rates of surface gas flux and the composition of surface and shallow soil gases in areas overlying possible carbon sequestration sites in eastern Kentucky,   providing (1) a database for interpreting the atmospheric, biologic, and geologic factors affecting gas flux prior to sequestration (2) a screening tool for selecting possible sequestration sites, and (3) a methodology for monitoring changes in surface and shallow gas flux and composition that might occur during a sequestration project. (DOE share: $276,232; Project duration: 24 months)
  • Winrock International (Morrilton, Ark.)—The overall objective of this project is to develop, test and apply new low-cost technologies and methods to detect carbon changes in mixed hardwood forests.   The approach combines 3D terrain reconstruction with multiple ranging lasers and multispectral imagery to develop new techniques of canopy crown detection and automated delineation that currently do not exist, but are crucial in reducing costs in monitoring and estimating standing biomass in forests while maintaining known levels of precision.   American Electric Power, Gahanna, Ohio, is teaming with Winrock International to conduct the research. (DOE share: $398,720; Project duration: 24 months)

Power Systems Advanced Research

  • General Electric Global Research Center (Niskayuna, N.Y.)—GE will develop a novel distributed fiber-optic micro-sensor capable of detecting common fossil fuel gases in harsh environments. During the first year, the researchers will investigate, design, and synthesize materials to modify the cladding layer on a novel fiber-optic grating sensor suitable to operate at 500°C and beyond. In the second year, the team will develop and fabricate fiber-optic micro gas sensing devices to demonstrate gas sensing to selected gases and evaluate sensitivity, selectivity, and reliability, around and above 500°C. The final six months involve integrating and testing of multiple sensors on the same fiber to demonstrate its sensor fusion capability for a spatial-distributed sensing system. General Electric is teaming with Penn State University, University Park, Pa., for this project. (DOE share: $631,007; Project duration: 30 months)
  • New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (Soccorro, N.M.)—This project aims to develop new types of fiber-based optical sensors using doped-ceramic high temperature materials that may enable in situ monitoring of fossil fuel flue gases in high temperature (>500°C) and high pressure (~ 200 psi) environment. The research will primarily focus on fundamental issues including development of highly selective doped-ceramic materials, optimization of coating characteristics, and design of optical fiber structures.   Performance of these newly created sensors will be tested in simulated application environments to establish the selectivity, sensitivity, and stability of the materials and sensor devices. A partner in this project is Dr. Jerry Y.S. Lin of Phoenix, Ariz.. (DOE share: $527,942; Project duration: 36 months)
  • University of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah)—The objective is to develop novel microscale (MEMS) gas sensing devices suitable for application in exhaust gas streams of power plants. The researchers will use thin film gas sensitive layers in combination with SiC-based micro hotplate devices to develop the novel MEMS. The use of thin film sensing layers and MEMS hotplate technologies yield excellent prospects for high volume fabrication of gas sensor devices, making them inexpensive to produce and relatively easy to be added to existing and future power plants. The researchers will investigate thin films based on two different sensing mechanisms: electrochemical thin films for sensing H2O and H2S, and metal oxide semi conductive sensors for H2, CO, CO2 NH3, NOX, HCs, and H2.   They will also investigate the development of micro hotplates and integration of gas sensing layers. (DOE share: $461,490; Project duration: 36 months)
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg, Va.)—The objective is to develop novel modified fiber materials for high temperature gas sensors based on evanescent wave absorption in standing hole optical fibers. To overcome the response time limitation of currently available holey fibers (due to gas phase diffusion constraints), a novel process will be developed to produce holes perpendicular to the fiber axis.   An investigation of the feasibility of upgrading the technology to single crystal sapphire by use of sol-gel processing and laser backside photochemical etching will be accomplished, thereby providing a quantum leap in temperature capability of the gas sensor. (DOE share: $599,479; Project duration: 36 months)
  • Energy Institute of Ohio (Independence, Ohio)—The objective is to contribute to the development of materials technology for use in USC pulverized coal power plant steam turbines capable of operating with steam conditions up to 760°C (1400°F), 35 MPa (5000 psi). The overall approach is to measure the level of properties that are achievable in candidate alloys and then arrive at appropriate alloys and design configurations. The project then branches into two parallel efforts for acquiring the bench-scale material properties: (1) rotors, buckets and bolting materials, and (2) valves and cylinder body casing materials. The effort on rotors is further divided into welded and mono block or solid rotors. Development of materials technology for USC steam turbines to match the USC boiler conditions is necessary to support commercialization of USC power plants. The work proposed here is a significant first step towards achieving this goal. Team members include Alstom, Windsor, Conn.; GE Energy, Schenectady, N.Y.; Siemens Westinghouse, Orlando, Fla.; Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tenn.; and EPRI, Palo Alto, Calif.. (DOE share: $2,087,877; Project duration: 36 months)
  • Fluent, Inc. (Lebanon, N.H.)—Fluent Inc. and partners will develop an integrated simulation capability by linking a hierarchy of plant- and equipment-level models that will have varying levels of fidelity and computational speed suitable for either preliminary conceptual design or detailed final design.   A main objective of the project is to complete the development of an integrated steady-state simulator that will include computationally efficient reduced order models (ROM) and a 3D virtual reality walkthrough capability.   A second objective is to develop a prototype dynamic simulator that integrates plant- and equipment-level models.  The use of leading commercial, advanced capability software tools as the backbone of the simulator infrastructure will ensure that the infrastructure will remain supported and available to the industry far into the future for simulating advanced power plants. Team members include ALSTOM Power Inc., Windsor, Conn.; Aspen Technology Inc., Cambridge, Mass.; and Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa.. (DOE share: $1,883,320; Project duration: 36 months)
  • Reaction Engineering International (Salt Lake City, Utah)—Reaction Engineering International (REI) proposes to develop a virtual engineering based software framework to support static and dynamic plant engineering simulations, which will be used to assess and evaluate the performance of advanced power generation systems. A software system that supports virtual engineering functionality will be used to create the framework, and financial models will be used to implement plant economics. The VE Suite Virtual Engineering Framework (VEF) will include a hierarchy of models and visualization tools to construct, perform and interrogate simulation results for component models and overall plant performance at multiple levels of detail within a three-dimensional (3-D), user-centered, interactive environment. The VEF will enable researchers to better understand the interactions of different equipment components, identify weaknesses and processes needing improvement and thereby allowing more efficient, less expensive plants to be developed and brought on line faster and in a more cost-effective manner. Team members include American Electric Power (AEP), Columbus, Ohio; AmerenUE, St. Louis, Mo.; Praxair, Tonawanda, N.Y.; MIT, Belmont, Mass.; EPRI, Palo Alto, Calif.; Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa; Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Penn.; Cooperative Research Centre For Coal in Sustainable Development, Newcastle, Australia; and Enertechnix, Maple Valley, Wash..  (DOE share: $440,998; Project duration: 24 months)
  • Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas)—A method will be developed that will drastically reduce the computational effort required to model multiphase flow reactors such as circulating fluidized-bed combustors and fluid catalytic cracking risers. This reduction will be accomplished by developing a low order model based on the proper orthogonal decomposition (POD) method. In this project, a reduced order model for multiphase flow reactors previously developed by the investigator will be enhanced to better capture the flow physics, to reduce the computational time and to provide interfaces that allow for integration with power plant simulations. The development of the reduced order model will significantly impact the design of new reactors by improving the understanding of multiphase flow and chemical reactions. (DOE share: $298,974; Project duration: 36 months)

Coal Fuels and Hydrogen

  • Advanced Materials Corporation (Pittsburgh, Pa.)   In keeping with the overall goal of this research—to develop tailored sorbent materials for use in on-board hydrogen storage systems—the researchers propose to design, synthesize, and study a new class of lightweight, thermally stable, microporous metal organic materials (MMOMs). A subset of the general family of metal organic frameworks (MOFs), these microporous crystalline materials are composed of various metals which form the internal surfaces of the pores. The adsorption mechanism and interaction energies of hydrogen on these novel microporous materials will be performed, and the adsorption energies and binding character of hydrogen interacting with all parts of the MMOM sorbents will be studied. Detailed potential models will then be developed that will allow the investigators to perform statistical mechanical simulations to study the uptake of hydrogen as a function of temperature and pressure. Team members include Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, N.J.; and the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa.. (DOE share: $544,103;   Project duration: 24 months)
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Mich.)—Porous metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) will be designed to concentrate hydrogen in a practical volume at room temperature and reasonably safe pressures. To help meet the DOE guidelines for use of hydrogen as a fuel, the research will focus on increasing the uptake capacity of MOFs. The researchers will undertake the synthesis and structural characterization of MOFs and apply high throughput sorption measurements to test existing MOFs and to produce tailor-made MOFs. In addition, they will use Raman spectroscopy to examine the mechanism of hydrogen uptake and elucidation of hydrogen sorption sites. (DOE share: $618,871; Project duration: 24 months)
  • Headwaters Technology Innovation Group (Lawrenceville, N.J.)—This proposal covers bench-scale and pilot-scale process development unit (PDU) testing of high and medium-alpha iron-based catalysts to produce high-hydrogen content Fischer-Tropsch (FT) liquids.   Barrel-quantity of FT liquid products will be delivered to NETL for various end-use tests.    These research programs will confirm and provide scale-up data for commercial applications.  Based on analysis of bench-scale results, the catalyst with superior commercial potential for high hydrogen content liquids production will be chosen for pilot-scale testing. Experimentation will also be performed on novel wax/catalyst separation methods, FT product upgrading, gas cleanup, and reformer performance. The potential benefit of this research is a more reliable, economic, and efficient coal-based system for producing FT liquids that will meet DOE's hydrogen program goals. Team members   include Gas Technology Institute (GTI), Des Plaines, Ill. Nexant Inc., San Francisco, Calif.; Rentech Inc., Denver, Colo.; UOP, Des Plaines, Ill.; Pall Corporation, East Hills, N.Y.; Air Force Research Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio; Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Ill.; and FT Solutions, South Jordan, Utah. (DOE share: $3,000,000; Project duration: 24 months)
  • Integrated Concepts and Research Corporation (Sterling Heights, Mich.)—Integrated Concepts and Research Corporation, with its partner, Syntroleum Corporation of Tulsa,   Okla.,   will evaluate commercially available coal gasification and synthesis gas (syngas) cleanup technologies and the integration of these processes with a cobalt catalyst based Fischer-Tropsch (FT) technology. The results of this work will provide a foundation for the development of a coal-to-liquids plant based on a cobalt catalyst FT technology.  Additionally, engineering and economic analysis will be utilized to evaluate the commercial feasibility of a plant in a coal producing state. A field evaluation of 6,000 gallons of ultra-clean FT #2 diesel fuel will be performed in a coal producing state to introduce the value of these ultra-clean fuels and gain market awareness and acceptance. These fuels will be produced as part of DOE’s ultra-clean fuel demonstration plant. (DOE share: $4,500,000; Project duration: 24 months)
  • Gas Technology Institute (Des Plaines, Ill.)—Gas Technology Institute and Arizona State University   will develop a novel membrane reactor process that combines hydrogen sulfide removal, water-gas shift reaction, hydrogen separation and carbon dioxide separation in a single membrane configuration. The CO conversion of the water-gas-shift reaction from the coal-derived syngas stream is enhanced by the complementary use of two membranes within a single reactor to separate hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Consequently, hydrogen production efficiency is increased. The single membrane reactor configuration produces two products, one pure H2 stream and a second pure CO2 stream that is ready for sequestration. In addition, sulfur is removed by a front-end membrane section of the single module. (DOE share: $386,420; Project duration: 24 months)
  • General Electric (Niskayuna, N.Y.)—GE will develop a detailed design for a single, high-temperature syngas-cleanup module to produce a pure stream of H2 from a coal-based system and develop new high temperature membrane materials at the core of the design. The novel “one box” process combines shift reactors with a high temperature CO2-selective membrane to convert CO to CO2, remove sulfur compounds, and remove CO2 in a simple, compact, fully integrated system.   (DOE share: $499,924; Project duration: 24 months) 
  • Aspen Products Group (Marlborough, Mass.)—The objective of this project is to develop a low-cost, robust water gas shift (WGS) membrane reactor that can be used to produce high-purity hydrogen from coal-derived syngas.   WGS is the reaction of water and carbon monoxide to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO + H2O → CO2 + H2). The WGS membrane reactor will utilize a highly active, contaminant-tolerant WGS catalyst and a novel, highly selective H2 membrane structure that is also contaminant-tolerant. (DOE share: $498,227; Project duration: 24 months)
  • United Technologies Corporation (East Hartford, Conn.)—The objective of this work is to develop necessary technology for the production of 99.96 percent pure H2 from coal-derived synthesis gas by combining water gas shift reaction (CO and H2O react to form CO2 and H2) with simultaneous selective separation of H2 though a palladium (Pd) alloy membrane. This membrane reactor technology has the advantages of  maximizing H2 productivity; eliminating complex, energy intensive processes like pressure swing adsorption to purify the H2; and producing a CO2 rich stream, that, after drying and a simple catalytic treatment to remove trace contaminants, is ready for compression and sequestration. United Technologies Corporation will be joined by QuesTek Innovations, LLC, Evanston, Ill., to conduct the research. (DOE share: $848,962; Project duration: 24 months)
  • University of Wyoming Research Corporation (Laramie, Wyo.)—With improved efficiency in hydrogen production as the goal, this project will undertake three steps in the improvement of the hydrogen production system. These steps include (1) development of an improved monolithic water gas shift catalyst that provides efficient conversion of carbon monoxide and structural support for a stacked assembly of membranes; (2) an improved vanadium alloy hydrogen transport membrane suitable for the chemical and physical environment of the coal-derived synthesis gas stream; and (3) an integrated stacked catalyst and membrane assembly scalable for commercial devices and economically designed for mass production.   The structural water gas shift catalyst will have a formulation that will eliminate the friable nature of current iron oxide-based pellets.   The shape of the catalyst will be important in the structure. WRI will partner with the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Wyoming to conduct the research. (DOE share: $500,000; Project duration: 24 months)
  • Lehigh University (Bethlehem, Pa.)—The research to be undertaken deals with a concept called Thermal Swing Sorption Enhanced Reaction (TSSER) process, which simultaneously carries out the water gas shift (WGS) reaction (CO and H2O react to form CO2 and H2) and the separation of CO2 as a single unit operation in a sorber-reactor. The process will potentially reduce the cost of production of hydrogen by coal gasification as well as provide a carbon dioxide byproduct at gasification pressure for sequestration without large recompression costs, or for its sale as a chemical agent. It will also open up the possible use of a new genre of chemisorbents as separation agents at elevated temperatures without predrying the feed gas. Industrial participation will be solicited for future scale-up of this concept after successful completion of the proposed phase of the project. (DOE share: $403,892; Project duration: 24 months)
  • University of Kentucky Research Foundation (Lexington, Ky.)—The Consortium for Fossil Fuel Science (CFFS), a multi-university research consortium, will conduct a research program focused on (1) developing novel processes for the production of hydrogen using C1 chemistry; (2) developing novel hydrogen storage materials; and (3) synthesis and dehydrogenation of hydrogen-rich carrier liquids. The CFFS will conduct research on these feedstocks: synthesis gas derived from coal, gaseous and liquid hydrocarbons produced from coal-derived syngas, coalbed methane, and natural gas. The research will emphasize development of a continuous reactor for the dehydrogenation of light alkanes to produce hydrogen and carbon nanotubes. The research is divided into three main categories: production of hydrogen, hydrogen storage, and advanced characterization of the catalysts and reaction products that are developed. Team members are West Virginia University, Morgantown, W.Va.; University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Auburn University, Auburn, Ala.; and University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah. (DOE share: $6,000,000; Project duration: 36 months)
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg, Va.)—A consortium of seven universities will conduct broad-based research at the Center for Advanced Separation Technologies (CAST) to develop advanced technologies in physical separation, chemical/biological separation, and environmental control, which have crosscutting applications in the mining industry. The advanced separation technologies developed in the proposed work can be used for producing high-quality solid fuels with maximum recovery without adversely impacting the environment. Some of the technologies can also be used for extracting values from low-grade ores and cleaning up the environment. The new technologies and information generated from the proposed work will help the U.S. mining industry provide low-cost energy and mineral resources in a sustainable manner. The university members include Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; West Virginia University; Montana Tech of the University of Montana; New Mexico Institute of Technology; University of Nevada, Reno; University of Utah; and University of Kentucky. (DOE share: $12,000,000; Project duration: 36 months)

Advanced Gasification

  • Gas Technology Institute (Des Plaines, Ill.)—The project will undertake the development of an integrated multi-contaminant removal process in which hydrogen sulfide (H2S), ammonia (NH3), hydrogen chloride (HCl) and heavy metals including mercury (Hg), arsenic (As), selenium (Se) and cadmium (Cd) present in coal-derived syngas will be removed to specified levels in a single process step. To accomplish this, a novel process called high pressure University of California Sulfur Recovery Process (UCSRP-HP) that directly converts H2S into elemental sulfur at 285°F to 300°F will be developed for coal-derived syngas. Other contaminates such as NH3, HCl and other trace contaminants will be removed in separate sections of the same reactor column. The preliminary process concept has been verified using a batch reactor at the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) and the results have been found to be very promising. The proposed process is tightly integrated and is expected to be significantly more economical both in terms of capital and operating costs because it could replace with one single unit the multi-unit processes used in conventional schemes. This study will be conducted by a team led by GTI and consisting of the University of California at Berkley, IP owners of this technology, and ConocoPhillips, with industrial expertise in coal-gasification for power generation. (DOE share: $359,957; Project duration: 18 months)
  • Research Triangle Institute (Research Triangle Park, N.C.)—One of the major costs of integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technology is cleaning the syngas to near zero levels at temperatures and pressures matching the existing gasification and syngas utilization systems. Removal of the contaminants contained in syngas in a cost-effective way is critical for cost reduction of the IGCC technology, while maintaining or improving the thermal efficiency of the overall IGCC system.   The researchers proposed to address this need by breaking the syngas cleaning task into bulk and polishing removal stages.   Bulk removal will be accomplished with a transport reactor system to reduce H2S, COS, NH3 and HCl down to low ppm to sub-ppm concentrations using a multifunctional sorbent.  The polishing removal stage will be accomplished using a fixed-bed system with a multifunctional sorbent designed to achieve near zero levels with materials containing active chemical sites for H2S, COS, NH3, HCl,   and the heavy metals. Suitable selection of the composition of these multifunctional sorbents will make this process capable of handling the significant variations in bulk syngas contaminant concentrations and the contaminant removal required for various syngas utilization requirements.  Team members are Eastman Chemical Company, Kingsport, Tenn.; Nexant, San Francisco, Calif.; SRI, Menlo Park, Calif.; Sud Chemie, Louisville, Ky.; and URS Corporation, Austin, Texas. (DOE share: $1,032,654; Project duration: 72 months)
  • TDA Research Inc. (Wheat Ridge, Colo.)—This project will develop a novel gas cleaning technology for removing multiple trace metals (particularly mercury, arsenic, selenium and cadmium) from coal-derived synthesis gas at high temperature.   The new sorbent-based trace metal removal process, when combined with warm or hot gaseous pollutant removal, will enable the efficient integration of all types of coal gasification technologies with downstream processes such as a gas turbine combined cycle, fuel cells and chemical generation, and will meet anticipated near-zero emissions control requirements. (DOE share: $300,000; Project duration: 12 months)
  • University of North Dakota (Grand Forks, N.D.)—This project will develop an impregnated monolith for contaminant control under oxygen-blown operation on a suite of low-rank coals including both North Dakota and Texas lignite.   The monolith developed by Corning Inc. is a fixed honeycomb-like structure that will force the contaminant-laden syngas to travel through multiple small channels in the monolith.  The surfaces inside the monolith will be impregnated with a sorbent developed by the University of North Dakota Energy Environmental Research Center (UNDEERC).  The monolith structure is expected to result in high syngas-sorbent contacting, low pressure drop and a long sorbent life, all of which could result in substantial cost savings over the more common particulate sorbent approach for gas cleanup. UNDEERC is the cooperative agreement recipient, with Corning as a substantial partner, both in terms of technical development and cost share. (DOE share: $4,993,179; Project duration: 60 months)

Related information on all the grants awarded in this program can be found on the Fossil Energy web page (  Additional information on other areas of interest in Fossil Energy can be found on the NETL website ( under Technologies.

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