FutureGen 2.0, a government-backed project that involves the upgrade of a coal-fired power plant in Meredosia, Ill., with oxy-combustion technology to capture 90% of that plant’s carbon emissions and then sequester them underground, has entered its second phase, the Department of Energy (DOE) said on Monday.

The DOE said the project’s first phase was complete. It included technical and financial milestones like the identification of a sequestration site in Morgan County, Ill., preliminary characterization and test drilling, and a commitment from the Illinois Commerce Commission to cover the FutureGen 2.0 project’s output under its power purchasing plans. A cooperative agreement announced on Wednesday with the FutureGen Industrial Alliance that kicked off the second phase would build on these achievements to begin preliminary design, preconstruction and engineering for the retrofitted, near-zero-emission coal-fired power plant.

The project essentially involves retrofitting the oil-fired Unit 4 boiler of Ameren’s Meredosia power plant with coal-fired oxy-combustion technology using the existing 200-MW steam turbine and Meredosia plant infrastructure. The greenhouse gas (97% pure) will then be transported via a 30-mile carbon dioxide pipeline to a sequestration site in northeastern Morgan County, Ill., in a Mt. Simon saline sandstone formation.

The DOE in September 2010 awarded $590 million to Ameren Energy Resources, Babcock & Wilcox, and American Air Liquide to demonstrate oxy-combustion technology at utility scale. It also granted $459 million to the FutureGen Alliance to transport and geologically sequester the carbon dioxide and build a visitor center as well as research and training facilities.

Sources: POWERnews, DOE