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US DOE invests US$28 million to advance cleaner fossil fuel power

World Coal,

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the selection of 14 research and development projects to advance energy systems that will enable cost-competitive, fossil fuel–based power generation with near-zero emissions.

The new projects, which span 11 states, will accelerate the scale-up of coal-fired advanced combustion power systems, advance coal gasification processes and improve the cost, reliability and endurance of solid oxide fuel cells.

The total value of the projects is over $36 million, which includes a federal investment of more than US$28 million and recipient cost-sharing of US$8.4 million.

The selected projects are expected to advance technologies that increase the performance, efficiency and availability of existing and new fossil fuel–based power generation; support national goals for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions; and help facilitate the safe and sustainable use of the Nation’s abundant fossil energy resources.

Funding for the new projects is provided by DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE). The projects will be managed by FE’sNational Energy Technology Laboratory. The selected projects will support DOE’s Advanced Combustion Systems Program, which is developing efficient and economically attractive combustion systems that generate electricity with near-zero emissions.

Advanced combustion pilot plants

Three projects were selected to complete preliminary designs of pilot plants based on advanced combustion systems. The selected projects will accelerate the scale-up of coal-fired advanced combustion power generation technologies capable of 90% CO2 capture with substantially improved cost and performance. The pilot plants will be at least 10 megawatts-electrical (MWe) in scale or equivalent and contain design features that will be assessed before commercial-scale demonstration. Technical and economic analyses will also be conducted at commercial-scale to evaluate the ultimate cost and performance relative to DOE goals.

The projects are:

  • Pre-project planning for a GE CLC™ 10 MWe pilot plant— Alstom Power Inc. (Windsor, Conneticut) and General Electric Co.. DOE: US$3 209 578.
  • Pre-project planning for a flameless pressurised oxy-combustion pilot plant—Southwest Research Institute (San Antonio, Texas), ITEA S.p.A., Jacobs, the Electric Power Research Institute, General Electric Global Research, and Peter Reineck Associates. DOE: US$3 279 208.
  • 10 MWe coal direct chemical looping large pilot plant, Front-end engineering and design study — Babcock & Wilcox (Barberton, Ohio) with The Ohio State University. DOE: US$3 330 452.

Modular oxygen production in fossil energy gasification systems

Two projects were selected to develop stand-alone oxygen-production technologies for use in coal gasification processes. The new technologies will produce oxygen of at least 95% purity for use in small-scale (500 kW to 5 MW) modular power plants at significantly lower cost than commercial state-of-the-art oxygen-production technologies. This, in turn, will help reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of producing syngas, a gaseous mixture composed mainly of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which can be converted into clean electricity, fertilizer, chemicals, or liquid fuel for internal combustion engines.

The projects are:

  • Low-cost oxygen for small-scale modular gasification systems –Thermosolv LLC, LP Amina Inc. (Laramie, Wyoming), the Western Research Institute, and the University of Wyoming. DOE: US$2 million.
  • Oxygen binding materials and highly efficient modular system for oxygen production — Research Triangle Institute (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina) and Air Liquide. DOE: US$1 999 602.

Solid oxide fuel cell technology

Nine research projects were selected to improve the cost, reliability and endurance of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs). An SOFC is a solid-state electrochemical device that directly converts reformed hydrocarbon fuels to electricity. Advantages of SOFCs include high efficiency, long-term stability, fuel flexibility, low emissions and relatively low costs. The projects were selected by DOE’s Advanced Energy System Program based upon responses to a funding opportunity announcement soliciting proposals in two topic areas: SOFC core technology and innovative concepts.

Five core technology projects were selected. These projects will focus on applied laboratory or bench-scale R&D that improves the cost, robustness, reliability and endurance of SOFC stack and or balance-of-plant technology:

  • Chromium vapor sensor for monitoring SOFC systems — Auburn University (Auburn, Alabama). DOE: US$171 465.
  • Development of chromium and sulfur getter for SOFC systems — University of Connecticut (Storrs, Connecticut). DOE: US$500 000.
  • High temperature anode recycle blower for SOFC — Mohawk Innovative Technology (Albany, New York) in collaboration with FuelCell Energy. DOE: US$600 000.
  • Highly selective and stable multivariable gas sensors for enhanced robustness and reliability of SOFC operation — General Electric (Niskayuna, New York) in partnership with SUNY Polytechnic Institute and GE-Fuel Cells LLC. DOE: US$545 290.
  • Minimising CR-evaporation from balance of plant components by utilising cost-effective alumina-forming austenitic steels — West Virginia University (Morgantown, West Virgina) in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Carpenter Technology Corporation, and FuelCell Energy. DOE: US$369 999.

Four innovative concept projects were selected. These projects will support the research and development of SOFC technology that has the potential to surpass current SOFC technology in terms of cost, robustness, reliability, or endurance:

  • Robust SOFC stacks for affordable and reliable distributed generation power systems — Redox Power Systems (College Park, Maryland), the University of Maryland Research Center, and the Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering. DOE: US$3 million.
  • Transformational SOFC Technology—Fuel Cell Energy (Danbury, CT). DOE: US$3 million.
  • Metal-supported ceria electrolyte-based SOFC stack for scalable, low cost, high efficiency and robust stationary power systems — Cummins Power Generation (Minneapolis, Minesota). DOE: US$3 935 630.
  • Performance and reliability advancements in a durable Low Temperature Tubular SOFC— Acumentrics (Walpole, Massachuetts) and the University of South Carolina. DOE: US$2 456 233.

The Office of Fossil Energy funds research, development and demonstration projects to reduce the risk and cost of advanced carbon technologies and further the sustainable use of the Nation’s fossil resources.

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