A pilot plant that uses chilled ammonia to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-fueled power plants was launched by Alstom, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and We Energies, at We Energies’ Pleasant Prairie Power Plant in Wisconsin. Alstom designed, constructed and will operate the 1.7 MW system that captures CO2 from a portion of coal-fired boiler flue gas at the power plant, a 1,224 MW coal-fired generating station.
Alstom’s process uses chilled ammonia to capture CO2 and isolates it in a highly concentrated, high-pressure form. In laboratory testing it has demonstrated the potential to capture more than 90 percent of CO2 at a cost that is far less than other carbon capture technologies. Once captured, the CO2 can be used commercially or sequestered in suitable underground geologic sites.
“Developing cost-effective carbon capture technology is one of the most important environmental challenges facing the utility industry in the 21st century and it’s important that we take steps now to achieve a long-term technology solution”
-- Gale Klappa, Chairman, President and CEO of Wisconsin Energy, parent company of We Energies
This process sounds like one that could be fairly easily integrated into existing power plants and lead the way towards the government requiring carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) at all coal fired power plants. Note that this project is being done with no government financing. Other technologies that are being developed and that have been reported on by TEB, include: ones using ZIFs, sodium hydroxide, or amine based solvents, another, I believe ambient temperature ammonia system, algae systems, and an e.coli system. These processes are aimed at conventional coal fired plants. IGCC and Oxyfuel plants isolate the CO2 as part of the processes so carbon capture is a much simpler process, but these plants cost more than conventional coal plants. There is disagreement whether conventional plants with CCS or IGCC plants with just sequestration are the most economical and which plants will dominate the industry in the future. In any case there is a huge number of existing conventional coal plants that need CCS, once legislation is passed requiring it.