DOE Funds New Gasification Projects As Existing IGCC Projects Face Turmoil

Seven gasification projects will receive about $7.5 million in funding from the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Energy Technology Laboratory.

The projects will reduce the cost of coal conversion and mitigate the environmental impacts of fossil-fueled power generation, the DOE said in a statement on July 14. The projects fall under two subtopic areas: development of gasification technologies applicable to in situ bio-gasification of coal to methane, and the development of low cost advanced air separation technologies that can produce oxygen for use in coal gasification processes.

However, only a few of the seven projects apply directly to integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plants.

The DOE will provide $1.28 million—about 80% of the total cost—to TDA Research Inc. to develop a new chemical absorbent-based air separation process that can deliver low-cost oxygen to IGCC power plants. The Colorado-based team will design, construct, and demonstrate continuous oxygen generation using the prototype test system. “The results of this work will position this highly efficient oxygen separation system for larger pilot-scale demonstration,” the DOE said.

It will also grant $1.5 million to a $2.2 million Ohio State University project to develop a chemical looping gasification technology, which uses an advanced air separation process to produce electricity and/or chemicals.

Project timeframes were not revealed.

In proposed greenhouse gas emission standards for new power plants, the Obama administration says that new fossil fuel–fired boiler and IGCC generating units must install partial carbon capture and storage (CCS) as the best system of emission reduction. The Environmental Protection Agency cited the Kemper Country IGCC project, the Texas Clean Energy Project, and the Hydrogen Energy California (HECA) project in finding that CCS is “adequately demonstrated.”

But, as POWER reported earlier this week, the DOE suspended funding for the Hydrogen Energy California (HECA) polygeneration clean coal plant, saying the company has failed to meet required milestones. The 300-MW project proposed in Kern County, Calif., is an IGCC plant that would convert coal and petroleum coke into hydrogen energy and also produce fertilizer.

The Kemper County IGCC under construction in Mississippi, meanwhile, has seen tremendous cost increases and delays. The recently opened Edwardsport IGCC plant owned by Duke Energy is also seeing costly outages and maintenance issues, reportedly costing customers $38.3 million more in fuel costs than planned.

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