Though it experienced a number of problems in its first year of operation, the SaskPower Boundary Dam Unit 3 carbon capture facility is now operating with a reliability rate of over 92%.

After initial excitement about successfully operating the world’s first full-scale carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) process at an operating power plant, SaskPower discovered a number of problems with the facility that resulted in numerous repairs and operational changes. When POWER toured the plant in May 2015 prior to writing an article about the project, which won the magazine’s Plant of the Year award last year, the generating unit was running well. And, though the carbon capture facility wasn’t operating at design specifications, it was running. Later, that system would be taken offline to replace an amine tank—a key component.

Boundary Dam Unit 3 power produced. Spring and fall maintenance outages are standard in the coal-fired power industry, and units may run at less than full capacity for a number of reasons, including reduced demand. Courtesy: SaskPower
Boundary Dam Unit 3 power produced. Spring and fall maintenance outages are standard in the coal-fired power industry, and units may run at less than full capacity for a number of reasons, including reduced demand. Courtesy: SaskPower

In a blog post dated May 9, Saskatchewan’s provincial electric utility reported that the 161-MW (gross) Unit 3 was online 100% in April and that 82,033 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) had been captured that month. “This brings the total of CO2 captured in 2016 to just under 300,000 tonnes, or 75 per cent of what was captured in 2015. We remain on track to meet our target of 800,000 tonnes captured in 2016,” the company said.

To date in 2016, SaskPower says Unit 3 “is operating above the 85% reliability target set for all power units at Boundary Dam Power Station. Of the first 121 days of 2016 the CCS system has been up for 112 days, achieving a reliability rate of more than 92%.”

SaskPower says the facility is operating “at a level that exceeds federal emission regulations and meets SaskPower’s CO2 sales commitment.”

This shot from the roof of SaskPower’s Boundary Dam Power Station shows ductwork that carries flue gas from the upgraded Unit 3 to the new carbon capture facility, where sulfur (in the shorter tower) and then carbon dioxide (in the taller tower) are absorbed and stripped before the carbon dioxide is compressed in the building partially visible on the right. From the compression building, the gas is piped underground to a metering station before being sent underground again, either for enhanced oil recovery or permanent geological storage. Source: POWER/Gail Reitenbach
This shot from the roof of SaskPower’s Boundary Dam Power Station shows ductwork that carries flue gas from the upgraded Unit 3 to the new carbon capture facility, where sulfur (in the shorter tower) and then carbon dioxide (in the taller tower) are absorbed and stripped before the carbon dioxide is compressed in the building partially visible on the right. From the compression building, the gas is piped underground to a metering station before being sent underground again, either for enhanced oil recovery or permanent geological storage. Source: POWER/Gail Reitenbach

Boundary Dam, which is located about a dozen miles north of the U.S. border, currently consists of four units and a capture facility for one of those units. The capture facility also includes an SO2 amine capture process and an acid plant to convert the gas to salable sulphuric acid. SaskPower said it is continuing to commission that process and is “currently performing final safety checks.”

Gail Reitenbach, PhD, editor (@GailReit, @POWERmagazine)