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DOE, RTI to Design and Build Gas Cleanup System for IGCC Power Plants

July 13, 2009 - 1:00pm


Washington, DC - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announces a collaborative project with Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International to design, build, and test a warm gas cleanup system to remove multiple contaminants from coal-derived syngas. The 50-MWe system will include technologies to remove trace elements such as mercury and arsenic, capture the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), and extract more than 99.9 percent of the sulfur from the syngas. A novel process to convert the extracted sulfur to a pure elemental sulfur product will also be tested.

This project supports DOE's vision of coal power plants with near-zero emissions by reducing the cost and improving the efficiency of capturing CO2 and removing contaminants from syngas derived from coal. The system also holds the potential to reduce the cost of producing chemicals, transportation fuels, and substitute natural gas from our vast domestic coal resources, thereby enhancing America's energy security and economic prosperity.

In integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plants, coal-derived syngas--a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen--is used to fuel a combustion turbine for the production of electricity. Reacting the carbon monoxide in syngas with steam to produce hydrogen and CO2 allows for the capture and sequestration of the CO2, preventing it from being released into the atmosphere.

RTI's syngas cleanup technologies will be tested at Tampa Electric Company's 250-MW IGCC power plant, using up to 20 percent of the syngas produced by the coal gasifier. Data on thermal efficiency, emissions, and cost benefits will be gathered during more than 5,000 hours of testing the warm syngas cleaning system. This information will help refine the integration strategy in an IGCC plant and mitigate technical risks associated with commercial deployment of this technology.

Because of the benefits of IGCC power plants, high-temperature syngas cleaning technologies have been the subject of intense investigation for over two decades. This project will be the world's first large-scale testing of such a technology.

A DOE-funded system study predicts a 2-3 percentage point increase in overall IGCC thermal efficiency and a six percent reduction in the cost of electricity by using the RTI contaminant removal process for an IGCC plant. Coupling this technology with a high-temperature CO2 capture technology will minimize the impact of carbon capture on the cost of electricity to the consumer.

The Office of Fossil Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory will manage the 5-year project, which will create nearly 240 jobs that will last for its duration. With successful completion of the project, the RTI warm gas cleanup system will be ready for full-scale commercial demonstration and deployment.