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Editor's Note: This post has been updated as of April 11, 2014.
TAMPA, FL. – Today, the Department of Energy joined RTI International and Tampa Electric Company (TECO) to celebrate the successful startup of a pilot project to demonstrate a warm gas cleanup carbon capture technology in a coal gasification unit at the Polk Power Plant Unit-1 in Tampa, Florida. The project, which is approximately $3 million under budget, included $168 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding.
“Fossil Fuels will be a major part of America’s energy supply for decades to come, and today’s demonstration is a major step forward in the effort to develop and deploy our coal resources in the cleanest way possible,” said Dr. Julio Friedmann, DOE’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Clean Coal, who spoke at the event. “This partnership between the Department and Tampa Electric represents our commitment to fostering the next generation of carbon capture technologies that drive down costs, increase efficiency, and help ensure a sustainable future for America’s energy supply.”
The Department has a long history of collaboration with TECO at the Polk Power Station, starting more than 20 years ago when DOE helped fund construction of the plant – the first coal integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plant in the U.S., and one of the first in the world.
Gas cleaning at power plants to remove contaminates like carbon dioxide, mercury, and sulfur is typically done at low temperatures. IGCC technology, or warm gas cleanup, has posed a technical challenge to scientists for more than 30 years. It has the potential to improve the energy efficiency of removing pollutants from coal power plant emissions, reducing the overall cost of capturing carbon dioxide and other contaminant emissions from power plants while also increasing reliability. The RTI International and TECO project is the first to use IGCC on a large-scale.
IGCC also has the potential for local economic benefits. The technology increases the possibility that the captured carbon dioxide can be turned into a new revenue stream for operators by converting it into other uses, like fertilizer and enhanced oil recovery.