Innovation is important to finding ways to make energy cleaner. And testing the ideas and processes that researchers come up with is critical to moving ideas from the lab to the marketplace.

That’s why the Department of Energy recently commissioned an Alabama testing facility that will help move research forward and speed up deployment of innovative post-combustion carbon dioxide (CO2) capture technologies for coal-based power plants.

The Post-Combustion Carbon Capture Center (or PC4) facility tests new technologies that are an important component of carbon capture and storage. Commercial deployment of these processes could cut carbon pollution and make the air we breathe cleaner.

Located at the Alabama Power Gaston power plant Unit 5, an 880-megawatt supercritical pulverized coal unit, PC4 recently began initial testing of a solvent called monoethanolamine (MEA). MEA captures CO2 from a slipstream of flue gas from the plant and has thus far exceeded the expected 90 percent capture rate. These initial tests will be used as a baseline to evaluate other emerging CO2 capture technologies now that the unit is in steady operation and capturing about 10 tons of CO2 every day.

PC4 is part of the National Carbon Capture Center (NCCC), which was established by the Department in Wilsonville, Ala., in 2009. The center works with technology developers around the world to test and evaluate pre- and post-combustion carbon capture technologies. Using realistic conditions, their work is helping to make CO2 capture technologies more affordable as quickly as possible.