B&W to demonstrate CO2 capture in US plant

Babcock & Wilcox, in collaboration with American Air Liquide, will shortly begin testing a promising new technology to help coal-fired power plants capture emissions of CO2.

Babcock & Wilcox Ohio CEDF facility

Babcock & Wilcox Ohio CEDF facility

B&W’s 30MW Clean Environment Development Facility (CEDF), in Alliance, Ohio, will be used to validate a technology called “oxy-coal combustion” that uses pure oxygen for the combustion of coal in electricity generating plants. In this system, nitrogen is eliminated from the combustion process, and, as a result, the exhaust gas is a relatively pure stream of CO2 ready for long-term storage operations. Typical exhaust gas contains CO2 at only 15% concentration, which is difficult to process for storage.

“Finding ways to capture and store CO2 emissions from power plants is paramount if the US is going to address greenhouse gas concerns and use our national energy resources,” said Don Langley, B&W vice president and chief technology officer.

“We see this major technology demonstration project as another step in B&W’s plan to deliver CO2-capture technology to the electricity generating industry and make a significant impact on this global issue.”

B&W will work with American Air Liquide to modify the existing CEDF facility for the oxy-coal process and will begin proving the technology in June 2007. American Air Liquide will provide engineering and chemistry know-how related to combustion, as well as proprietary equipment and sensors for the safe and efficient handling of liquefied oxygen.

B&W CEO John Fees

B&W CEO John Fees

Earlier this week, B&W chief executive officer John Fees testified before a US House of Representatives subcommittee promoting the oxy-coal technology as a viable means of producing cleaner energy.

Of the three CO2-capture technologies under discussion in the US – namely oxy-coal combustion for new and existing coal plant, amine scrubbing for new or existing coal plant, and pre-combustion processes used by integrated gasification combined cycle plant (IGCC), oxy-coal would prove the least costly, said Fees in written testimony to the House Subcomittee on Energy and Air Quality of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

“The first wave of near-zero emission coal plants will start operations around 2012,” said Fees. “Technology development, economic and market incentives can accelerate the timeframe for implementing widespread carbon capture deployments on a commercial scale. This will only be successful if legislation does not favor one technology over another.”

None of the technologies has been demonstrated at significant size in an integrated full-scale system for electricity generation, he noted.

About James Ockenden (228 Articles)
Journalist covering energy and power markets since 1996.
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