Southern Co. Captures Carbon Dioxide at Plant Yates Pilot

The pilot-scale project at Georgia Power’s Plant Yates near Newnan, Ga.—the first step in one of the industry’s largest demonstrations of a start-to-finish coal-fired power plant carbon capture and storage system—reached a significant milestone this September, capturing the greenhouse gas for the first time.

The project, which uses a mobile version of the KM-CDR CO2 capture process developed by Kansai Electric and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan (MHI), will provide additional process information before the technology is demonstrated next year at a 25-MW scale. That demonstration is expected to capture 500 tons per day (tpd) of CO2 at Alabama Power’s Plant Barry, near Mobile, Ala.

According to MHI, the pilot project at Yates is a “catch and release” process, where a small amount of CO2 is captured from a 0.1-MW slipstream using the company’s proprietary KS-1 solvent—an advanced hindered amine solvent—and then returned to the plant’s flue gas stack (Figure 4). For the project at Plant Barry, the 500 tpd of CO2 will be compressed and transported via pipeline to deep underground storage formations. The research project, which has been ongoing since August, is expected to continue through the middle of November.

4. American pilot. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Southern Co. in September reported that they had captured carbon dioxide for the first time at a pilot-scale project at Georgia Power’s Plant Yates near Newnan, Ga. The pilot project uses a mobile version of MHI’s KM-CDR CO2 capture process, where a small amount of CO2 is captured using the company’s proprietary KS-1 solvent—an advanced hindered amine solvent—and then returned to the plant’s flue gas stack. Courtesy: MHI

A participant in several major research initiatives to advance the development of carbon capture and storage technology, Southern Co. operates the National Carbon Capture Center for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) near Birmingham, Ala. In addition to the projects at Yates and Barry, a company subsidiary, Mississippi Power, is building an advanced commercial-scale coal gasification power plant in Kemper County, Miss., that will include carbon capture and reuse for enhanced oil recovery.

The Plant Barry (Figure 5) project is a much smaller endeavor than initially planned; originally, the plant had been proposed to capture up to 1 million metric tons of CO2 for storage in saline formations in the Citronelle oil field. In December 2009 that project was part of the original group of projects to receive $295 million of third-round funding from the DOE’s Clean Coal Power Initiative. Along with the DOE’s funding came a hard deadline to commit to the project, however. Company representatives said they did not have enough time to perform due diligence in terms of financial ramifications for the company. Southern Co. also said it would have had to come up with approximately another $350 million on its own, which was not in its “best interest.” The company subsequently pulled out of the high-profile project but said it would continue with the smaller demonstration.

5. Small but significant.  The carbon capture demonstration project planned for construction at Plant Barry (shown here) is a much smaller endeavor than was initially planned. Originally, the plant was to capture up to 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. But project owner Southern Co. pulled out of the high-profile project this March, saying it could not accept (and match) $295 million in federal grants, given the short deadline, which left it too little time to contemplate financial ramifications for the company. Courtesy: Southern Co.

MHI, meanwhile, has used the KM-CDR process to capture CO2 from flue gas at seven natural gas–fired commercial plants worldwide to date. In the realm of CO2 recovery from flue gas at coal-fired plants, which contains more impurities than flue gas at natural gas plants, MHI says it has already conducted small-scale demonstration testing for CO2 recovery at 10 tpd from 2006 through 2008. These tests have “confirmed uninterrupted stable operation,” the company claims. The company more recently received an order from E.ON UK to support front-end engineering design for a post-combustion capture plant proposed as part of E.ON’s planned new supercritical coal-fired plant in Kent, England.

Sonal Patel is POWER’s senior writer.