Ten Advanced Combustion Systems That Are Getting the Government’s Backing

Ten projects selected on June 8 to receive funding through the National Energy Technology Laboratory’s (NETL’s) Advanced Combustion Systems Program could lower costs and improve the performance of combustion systems that generate power with near-zero emissions, the Department of Energy (DOE) said. 

The projects, which are mostly based on oxycombustion and chemical looping, include the use of higher efficiency supercritical carbon dioxide (SCO2) power cycles, further research on mature combustion technologies, and the development of novel concepts.

Making Use of Higher Efficiency SCO2 Power Cycles

The DOE  selected two projects that will use higher-efficiency SCO2 power cycles. According to NETL, the SCO2 power cycle operates in a manner similar to other turbine cycles, but it uses CO2 as the working fluid in the turbomachinery.

Thermal Integration of Closed Supercritical CO2 Brayton Power Cycles with Oxy-fired Heaters

One project entails the development of the first process designs for a closed steam cycle power plants that use SCO2 for oxy/coal-fired SCO2 heaters. Over the next two years, a team comprising the Electric Power Research Institute, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group, and Echogen Power Systems will identify technology gaps in the SCO2 Brayton power cycle plants, develop cost estimates for the plants, identify opportunities to optimize costs via changes to plant design, and identify components whose cost might be reduced by focused research and development.

Cost: DOE: $1,689,466/Non DOE: $422,367/Total Funding: $2,111,833 (Cost share: 20%)

Adsorption/Desorption-Based SCO2 Power Cycles for Coal-Fired Power Plants

Over the next two years, meanwhile, San Antonio–based Southwest Research Institute and Thar Energy will evaluate a novel indirect SCO2 power cycle for utility-scale power generation. The project will require addressing challenges facing the tight integration of the secondary and thermal systems with the SCO2 power block. The DOE said the project will also extend the knowledge of CO2 absorbent mixtures to pressures and temperatures of interest for SCO2 power cycles and evaluate a novel SCOcycle that could increase thermal efficiencies by an additional 5% to 10%.

Cost: DOE: $500,000/Non DOE: $125,000/Total Funding: $625,000 (Cost share: 20%)

Making the Most of Mature Combustion Technologies

Six projects selected by the DOE on June 8 will get funding for more research on existing combustion technologies.

Improving Alstom’s Chemical Looping Process

Alstom Power, which is developing a limestone-based chemical looping combustion (LCL-C) process for near–zero emission power generation, will team with the University of North Dakota to conduct parametric bench-scale tests, data analysis, and facility modification and operation. Great River Energy will provide industrial input in designing and operating a coal-fired LCL-C system. Successful execution of the 24-month project will address the critical technology gap of flue gas purity and show that the LCL-C process can be scaled to a demonstration scale, the DOE said.

Cost: DOE: $1,998,940/Non DOE: $499,735/Total Funding: $2,498,675 (Cost share: 20%)

Enabling Technology for Oxy-fired Pressurized Fluidized Bed Combustor Development

Aerojet Rocketdyne of Delaware, CanmetENERGY, and Linde will develop a set of pilot-scale technologies, including an in-bed SCO2 heat exchanger, staged coal combustion, and an isothermal deoxidation reactor—a technology that will be used to purify CO2 in flue gas by reacting it with a catalyst. This project will seek to improve the economics of the current oxycombustion pathway and address technology gaps associated with scale-up and system performance for NETL’s atmospheric- and pressurized oxycombustion technology pathways, the DOE said.

Cost: DOE: $1,999,804/Non DOE: $613,618/Total Funding: $2,613,422 (Cost share: 23%)

Flue Gas Water Vapor Latent Heat Recovery for Pressurized Oxycombustion

The Gas Technology Institute will adapt a transport membrane condenser (TMC) for pressurized oxycombustion to be tested with its pilot-scale fluidized-bed coal oxycombustor. The TMC recovers water from flue gas via a nanoporous ceramic separation membrane (to be developed by Media and Process Technology) and produces high purity water. The associated latent heat recovery improves system efficiency by reducing the volume of flue gas recycling and purification. Florida International University will assist with TMC design simulation and performance optimization. SmartBurn will support integration of the technology into the plant water use loop and a techno-economic analysis for its integration into a power plant.

Cost: DOE: $1,999,795/Non DOE: $645,150/Total Funding: $2,648,945 (Cost share: 24%)

Integrated Oxygen Production and CO2 Separation through Chemical Looping Combustion Process with Oxygen Uncoupling

The University of Utah will team with Amaron Energy for the first-known effort to advance the development of chemical looping combustion with oxygen uncoupling to pilot scale using an existing pilot-scale, dual fluidized bed chemical looping reactor.

Oxygen uncoupling is a mechanism whereby oxygen gas is released from oxygen carrier particles so the oxygen can more readily react with fuel. The 24-month project will address critical technology gaps and improve overall system performance by identifying and decreasing unit operation energy requirements. “This will reduce technical risk for chemical looping and development of knowledge and tools to support scale-up of chemical looping combustion technologies,” said the DOE.

Cost: DOE: $1,784,320/Non DOE: $446,080/Total Funding: $2,230,400 (Cost share: 20%)

Characterizing Impacts of High Temperatures and Pressures in Oxy-coal Combustion Systems

Utah-based Reaction Engineering International will team with experts from University of Utah, Praxair, and Jupiter Oxygen Corp. to perform multi-scale experiments, mechanism development, and computational fluid dynamics modeling to generate modeling tools and mechanisms capable of describing high-temperature and -pressure oxy-coal combustion. The DOE said that information generated by this 18-month project can be used by industry and other researchers to assess the use of high-temperature and elevated temperature high-pressure oxycombustion and to guide development of new oxy-coal boiler designs.

Cost: DOE: $1,251,541/Non DOE: $319,055/Total Funding: $1,570,596 (Cost share: 20%)

Integrated Flue Gas Purification and Latent Heat Recovery for Pressurized Oxycombustion

Over the next two years, Washington University will investigate integrated pollution removal with simultaneous latent heat recovery from flue gas for a staged, pressurized oxycombustion system. The team plans to design, construct, and install a unit on the university’s 100-kW pressurized furnace to measure the effects of key variables (such as pH, pressure, temperature) on the unit’s ability to capture sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides. Results from this testing will be used to develop an accurate reaction model which could be used to design future pilot-scale and ultimately commercial-scale systems, the DOE said.

Cost: DOE: $996,652/Non DOE: $295,312/Total Funding: $1,291,964 (Cost share: 23%)

New Concepts

Two projects chosen for their novel concepts will receive the least fraction of funding announced on June 8.

Pulse Detonation Engine for Advanced Oxycombustion of Coal-Based Fuels

To increase the efficiency of power generation plants, Oregon State University will develop and evaluate a pulse detonation combustion system for magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)—an innovative way that converts a high-velocity coal flame into electricity using a magnetic field. The 24-month project will see researchers design, build, and operate a pulse detonation engine that uses gaseous or solid fuels with air and oxygen, evaluate the operational envelope and combustor performance, and develop and validate a numerical design tool to calculate the performance of two types of MHD systems. By operating the combustor with coal and oxygen, exhaust gases can easily be separated for carbon capture purposes, said the DOE.

Cost: DOE: $673,340/Non DOE: $201,410/Total Funding: $874,750 (Cost share: 23%)

Application of Spouting Fluidized Bed to Coal-Fueled Pressurized Chemical Looping Combustion to Improve Plant Efficiency and Reduce Process Complexity

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research will assess and demonstrate spouting fluidized bed to coal-fueled pressurized chemical looping combustion (PCLC) to improve plant efficiency and reduce process complexity. Over 24 months, the team plans to design, fabricate, and test a 50-kW thermal pressurized facility that will use an industrial waste red mud oxygen carrier, pulverized coal, and a novel spouted bed reactor to address the major technical gaps of solid-fueled PCLC technology.

The DOE said the system’s higher overall efficiency and fewer expensive components could reduce the cost of electricity, while capturing CO2.

Cost: DOE: $699,556/Non DOE: $176,223/Total Funding: $875,779 (Cost share: 20%)

Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)