Powerspan Corp. and BP Alternative Energy have announced a collaborative agreement to develop and commercialize Powerspan's carbon dioxide (CO2) capture technology, called "ECO2(TM)" for power plants. The scope of the agreement includes financial and technical support for pilot demonstration and commercial scale-up activities, which may include joint development of large-scale demonstration projects that would capture CO2 from power station flue gas. The captured CO2 would be sent for secure, long-term storage deep underground. Use of ECO2 for large scale capture and storage of CO2 from power plants represents a major option for reducing greenhouse gases. It is expected that pilot plant testing will take place at FirstEnergy Corp.'s R.E. Burger plant in Shadyside, Ohio in early 2008.
The ECO2 process is a post-combustion CO2 capture process for conventional power plants. The technology is suitable for retrofit to the existing coal- fired, electric generating fleet as well as for new coal-fired plants. The regenerative process is readily integrated with Powerspan's patented Electro- Catalytic Oxidation, or ECO(R), process for multi-pollutant control of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury, and fine particulate matter from power plants.
The process uses an ammonia-based solution to capture CO2 in flue gas and release it for enhanced oil recovery or other form of geological storage. The CO2 capture takes place after the NOx, SO2, mercury and fine particulate matter are captured. Once the CO2 is captured, the ammonia-based solution is regenerated to release CO2 and ammonia. The ammonia is recovered and sent back to the scrubbing process, and the CO2 is in a form that is ready for geological storage. Ammonia is not consumed in the scrubbing process, and no separate by-product is created. The process can be applied to both existing and new coal-fired power plants and is particularly advantageous for sites where ammonia-based scrubbing of power plant emissions is employed.
Powerspan has previously demonstrated its ECO(R), process for multi-pollutant control of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury, and fine particulate matter at the Burger plant, previous post. As described in that post the multi-pollutant removal process is also an ammonia based process.
Pilot scale testing of ECO2 technology is expected to begin at the Burger plant in early 2008. The ECO2 pilot unit will process a 1-megawatt (MW) slipstream (20 tons of CO2/day) from the 50-MW Burger ECO unit. The plan is to provide the captured CO2 for sequestration on-site in an 8,000-foot test well drilled at the Burger plant earlier this year. FirstEnergy is collaborating with the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership on the sequestration test project. The Burger pilot program could be the first such program to demonstrate both CO2 capture and sequestration at a conventional coal-fired power plant.
The ECO2 pilot program provides the opportunity to confirm process design and cost estimates. Initial estimates developed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) indicate that the ammonia-based CO2 capture process could provide significant savings compared to commercially available amine-based CO2 capture technologies.
For those of you that believe that modern conventional fired coal power plants can be built or retrofitted with technology that enables these plants to compete with IGCC plants with CO2 capture, this may be the answer. We just have to wait until 2010 or so to find out, which will be at the same time or before IGCC plants have had a chance to demonstrate their technology.