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Department of Energy Announces $41 Million Investment for Carbon Capture Development

August 25, 2011 - 1:00pm


Washington, DC - The U.S. Department of Energy announced today 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 today 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 U.S. 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.

The projects, managed by the Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, selected for negotiation of award include:

Area of Interest - Solvents

  • Novozyme (Franklinton, N.C.) -- The applicant proposes to design, build, and test an integrated bench-scale system that combines the attributes of the bio- catalyst, carbonic anhydrase, and ultrasound technology for reducing the energy required to remove the captured CO2 from the solvent. The application of ultrasonic energy forces dissolved CO2 into gas bubbles. The technologies are projected to reduce the CO2 capture energy penalty from a coal-fired power plant by as much as 51 percent compared to using conventional monoethnolamine (MEA) scrubbing technology. (DOE share: $1,620,794; recipient share: $422,269)
  • Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group (Barberton, Ohio) --The project will identify chemical additives that will improve overall performance of B&W’s amine-based CO2capture technology. Recent testing at B&W indicates that blends of the solvent with additives capture CO2 more effectively when combined versus the pure solvent. Technology objectives include improving the CO2 capture system operability and reliability, minimizing environmental impacts, reducing corrosion potential in the system, and maximizing solvent durability. (DOE share: $2,835,680; recipient share: $708,920)
  • Battelle (PNNL) (Richland, Wash.) --The bench-scale project investigates new organic-based solvents designed specifically for capturing post-combustion CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants. The low solvent regeneration temperatures of the proposed technology facilitates energy integration that has the potential to reduce overall CO2 capture energy penalty by more than 50 percent compared to commercial systems. Continuous absorption-desorption tests will be performed on the optimal solvents over a one-year period. (DOE share: $1,999,693; recipient share: $500,000)
  • Carbon Capture Scientific (Pittsburgh, Pa.) --This project will perform bench-scale development and testing of a novel solvent-based CO2 scrubbing technology, known as Gas Pressurized Stripping (GPS). The GPS technology has the potential to significantly reduce the energy penalty associated with solvent regeneration by operating at higher pressures which in turn reduces the compression requirements for placement of CO2 in pipelines. Successful results could reduce the total parasitic power load of a CO2 capture process by 60 percent compared to the DOE baseline case. (DOE share: $2,999,756; recipient share: $751,169)
  • GE Global Research (Niskayuna, N.Y.) --This project will continue research and bench-scale testing of a novel CO2 capture solvent, aminosilicone, developed as part of a previous DOE-funded program. A manufacturing plan for the solvent and price model will be used for optimization, and combined with a rigorous process model and thorough manufacturability analysis for the solvent, will enable a practical technology path to later development at larger scales and commercialization. (DOE share: $2,999,815; recipient share: $749,954)

Area of Interest - Sorbents

  • W.R. Grace (Columbia, Md.) --The proposed project will develop a cost-effective CO2 capture process known as pressure swing adsorption (PSA), which utilizes rapid pressure changes to capture and release CO2. Key to this project is finding a suitable match between the adsorbent and the pressure change cycle configuration. The applicants will develop a low-pressure-drop, structured adsorbent material, based on commercially-available materials that are suitable for use in a rapid PSA cycle configuration. The proposed work builds upon promising results for CO2 capture from flue gas obtained in a previous project employing a traditional PSA cycle configuration with long cycle times of 300 seconds or so. (DOE share: $2,998,705; $749,921)
  • Georgia Tech Research Corp. (Atlanta, Ga.)--By using a rapid temperature change, a novel process - referred to as rapid temperature swing adsorption (RTSA) - is being investigated for CO2 capture. The CO2 is captured on hollow fibers loaded with silica-supported adsorbents. The outcomes of the project will be bench-scale demonstration of the concept of RTSA for CO2 capture, coupled with preliminary design, optimization and economic analysis of a full-scale system to demonstrate the potential for this technology to meet cost and performance goals set by DOE. (DOE share: $2,386,633; recipient share: $637,047)
  • InnoSepra (Bridgewater, N.J.) -- This process utilizes sorbents with much lower CO2 capture energy requirements compared to competitive processes and has been successfully demonstrated at the lab scale to obtain greater than 99 percent CO2 purity, and more than 90 percent CO2 recovery. The ultimate goals of the project are to confirm the projected performance of the InnoSepra process at the bench scale; provide sufficient data for design of a commercial-scale plant; and provide a high degree of confidence in the applicability, cost effectiveness and practical feasibility of this process. Projections based on detailed engineering evaluations show that the technology can reduce the power consumption for CO2 capture by more than 40 percent, and the capital cost for the CO2 capture equipment by more than 60 percent at commercial scale, resulting in a more than 40 percent reduction in the CO2 capture cost compared to alternate technologies such as amines. (DOE share: $2,594,885; recipient share: $650,000)
  • Research Triangle Institute (Research Triangle Park, N.C.) -- The proposed project will develop an advanced, solid sorbent, known as Molecular Basket Sorbent (MBS), for CO2 capture. Key to this project is the optimization and production scale-up of advanced MBS materials in fluidizable form and the development of an associated fluidized-bed process technology. The associated engineering and design work will provide significant advancements for most solids-based CO2 capture systems, including demonstration of various heat recovery and process integration concepts. Anticipated project benefits are improvements in terms of energy penalty, capital/operating cost, and environmental performance for CO2 capture technology. (DOE share: $2,997,107; recipient share: $912,092)
  • TDA Research, Inc. (Wheat Ridge, Colo.) --The applicant proposes to develop a low-cost, high-capacity CO2 adsorbent and demonstrate its technical and economic viability for post-combustion CO2 capture for existing pulverized coal-fired power plants. The adsorbent was developed by the applicant under a previous contract with DOE. The team will work to advance the technology by improving the material capabilities and the process design, and by carrying out an evaluation with a fully-equipped prototype unit using coal flue gas to demonstrate the technical viability of the concept. (DOE share: $2,700,000; recipient share: $675,000)
  • University of North Dakota (Grand Forks, N.D.) --The objective of this project is to scale up and demonstrate a hybrid solid sorbent technology, referred to as the CACHYSTM process, for CO2 capture from coal combustion-derived flue gas. The technology involves a novel solid sorbent based on the following ideas: reduction of energy for sorbent regeneration, utilization of novel process chemistry, contactor conditions that minimize sorbent-CO2 heat of reaction and promote fast CO2 capture, and low-cost method of heat management. The project will develop key information for the CACHYS process--sorbent  performance, energy for sorbent regeneration, physical properties of the sorbent, the integration of process components, sizing of equipment, and overall capital and operational cost of the integrated system. (DOE share: $2,952,000; recipient share: $738,000) 

Area of Interest - Membranes

  • GE Global Research (Niskayuna, N.Y.) --The project will focus on developing novel polymer membranes at bench scale, including modifying the properties of the polymer in a coating solution and fabricating highly engineered porous hollow fiber supports that have the potential to meet DOE’s CO2 capture goals. These membranes permit CO2 to pass through to produce a concentrated CO2 stream while blocking all other gases. Physical, chemical, and mechanical stability of the materials (individual and composite) toward coal flue gas components will be evaluated using exposure and performance tests. Module design, technical, and economic feasibility analyses will be conducted to evaluate the overall performance and impact of the process on the cost of electricity. (DOE share: $2,434,282; recipient share: $608,570)
  • Fuel Cell Energy, Inc. (Des Plaines, Ill.) --The proposed project goal is to verify that the applicant’s patented membrane-based Direct FuelCell® (DFC) can achieve at least 90 percent CO2 capture from flue gas of an existing PC plant with no more than 35 percent increase in the COE.The DFC consists of ceramic-based layers filled with carbonate salts, separating CO2 from the flue gas with a selectivity of 100 percent over the nitrogen present in the gas. Because of fast reactions, the CO2 concentration of less than 15 percent normally found in the PC plant flue gas is suitable for this application. (DOE share: $2,994,108; recipient share: $748,527)
  • Membrane Technology and Research, Inc. (Menlo Park, Calif.)--This project will focus on novel membrane designs that will result in reductions in membrane cost, system complexity, footprint, and pressure drop for very large membrane-based CO2 capture projects. A commercial-scale membrane module will be developed with an area of 2,500 m2, which is 20 to 50 times larger than the area of current modules. The cost and complexity of manifolding the membrane modules and the footprint of the membrane system can be sharply reduced by development of the new mega-modules. Energy savings due to low pressure drops for gases circulated through the modules, as well as improved countercurrent flow, are additional benefits. (DOE share: $2,999,871; recipient share: $983,202)
  • Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio) --The objective of this proposed project is a cost-effective design and manufacturing process for new membrane modules that separate CO2 from flue gas. The membranes consist of a thin selective inorganic layer embedded in a polymer structure so that it can be made in a continuous manufacturing process. They will be incorporated in spiral-wound modules for bench-scale tests at actual conditions. Preliminary cost calculations show that options of using a single-stage membrane process or a two-stage process can meet or exceed the DOE cost goals. (DOE share: $3,000,000; recipient share: $1,262,300)
  • William Marshall Rice University (Houston, Texas)--Researchers will construct and test at the bench-scale a novel CO2 capture process which includes: combining the absorber and stripper columns into a single integrated unit. The two functions of this integrated unit are separated by a ceramic membrane which enhances the capture of the CO2 from the flue gas and the production of a concentrated stream of CO2 for storage. A computer simulation model will be developed for the process, and the results will be used to optimize the properties of ceramics being used and the process operating conditions. The expected outcomes of this project include significant reduction in the capital and operating costs of the gas absorption process and the resulting increase in COE. (DOE share: $768,647; recipient share: $192,164)


Learn more about DOE's research in membranes, solvents, and sorbents for CO2 capture