In 2011, the Office of Fossil Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) established the Carbon Capture Simulation Initiative (CCSI) to take carbon-capture concepts from the laboratory to the power plant more quickly, at a lower cost, and with reduced risk than would be accomplished following more traditional research and development pathways. Today, the NETL-led CCSI has proven itself to be a model of successful, effective collaboration among government, industry, and academia.
The heart of the initiative is the CCSI Toolset, a suite of computer models and computational tools that enable the rapid development and deployment of new carbon-capture technologies. Created by government and academic researchers for industry end-users, the Toolset could dramatically reduce the 20–30 years of development time usually required for commercial technology deployment.
Currently, five companies from the 19-member CCSI industry team have licensed the Toolset: General Electric, Alstom Power, Phillips 66, Babcock & Wilcox, and Chevron. The CCSI technical team — which is led by NETL and includes researchers from four additional Energy Department national laboratories (Los Alamos National Lab, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, and Pacific Northwest National Lab) and five nationally recognized universities (Carnegie Mellon University, West Virginia University, Princeton University, Boston University, and the University of Texas) — communicates closely with these companies to help them get the most out of the CCSI Toolset. In return, these industry partners demonstrate how they are applying the Toolset, share experiences from actual use to help improve the tools, and identify opportunities for further collaboration. For example, Alstom is using the CCSI Toolset as part of its current commercial development activities, including ongoing scale-up of its carbon-capture technology.
In another example of collaboration between the technical and industry teams, NETL and ADA Environmental Solutions have entered into a cooperative research and development agreement that includes both computational work to improve ADA’s solid sorbent CO2-capture process and experimental work to validate CCSI models and computational tools. ADA will provide extensive data associated with the development of their new process, and NETL will use the Toolset to assess this pilot-scale system. Once the ADA system is operational, the CCSI technical team will be able to use data from the system to validate CCSI solid-sorbent reactor models. This feedback loop between the CCSI technical team and its industrial partners is invaluable in accelerating development of additional CO2-capture technologies.
The technical team continues to update the Toolset based on industry data and feedback. The team recently added new capabilities, including FOQUS, a new framework for optimizing and quantifying the uncertainty of new carbon-capture processes. This tool will help to screen new concepts more quickly and move promising technology from laboratory to pilot and demonstration scales with lower risk. The technical team is also expanding the range of technologies that the Toolset will address.
Ultimately, the entire nation benefits from this successful collaboration. As laboratory breakthroughs move more quickly into the commercial marketplace, industry can accelerate the deployment of successful carbon-capture technologies — and America's abundant fossil resources will provide cleaner energy well into the future.