North Carolina–based NET Power announced Oct. 15 that it had closed funding and major project agreements for a novel gas-fired plant that will produce no emissions whatsoever.
NET Power’s design represents potentially the biggest advance in gas-fired power generation since combined cycle gas turbines. Based on a process called the Allam Cycle, it relies on oxyfuel combustion and produces CO2 as a pipeline-quality byproduct rather than an exhaust gas. Instead of employing post-combustion carbon-capture equipment that places a substantial parasitic drain on the plant, the CO2 is employed to generate power.
The project was first announced in 2012. According to NET Power’s literature, the Allam Cycle “uses a high-pressure, highly recuperative, oxyfuel, supercritical CO2 cycle that makes carbon capture part of the core power generation process, rather than an afterthought.”
The 50-MWt demonstration plant, to be built in Texas, is intended to validate the zero-emission design. The $140 million project—which includes ongoing process engineering, plant engineering, procurement and construction, a full testing and operations program, and commercial product development—is being funded by a combination of cash and in-kind contributions from Exelon Corp. and CB&I.
Toshiba Corp., another project partner, has been developing a supercritical CO2 turbine for the project for several years, and manufacturing has begun. 8 Rivers Capital, the inventor of the technology, will provide continued technology development services and the intellectual property for the project.
Commissioning is expected to begin in 2016 and be complete in 2017. A commercial-scale 295-MW plant is also under design and development.
NET Power says that the Allam Cycle will match or lower the current cost of electricity from natural gas. The CO2 can be sequestrated or used in enhanced oil recovery. NET Power also says Allam Cycle–based plants can significantly reduce water usage compared to conventional plants, or eliminate water usage entirely, in each case with only a minor reduction in plant efficiency.
—Thomas W. Overton, JD is a POWER associate editor.