The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) has selected 12 crosscutting research projects to receive $8.6 million in federal funding. The projects will develop innovative technologies that will enhance the efficiency of fossil energy power systems.

Selected through funding opportunity announcement DE-FOA-0001686, Innovative Technology Development to Enable and Enhance Highly Efficient Power Systems, the projects are expected to make significant and cost-effective progress toward achieving step-change benefits for electric generating units and industrial plants that use fossil fuels.

The newly selected projects join the research portfolio of the Department’s Crosscutting Technology Research Program, which serves as a bridge between basic and applied research by fostering research and technology development in sensors and controls, modeling and simulation, and high-performance materials.

FE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory will manage the projects, which fall under five areas of interest and are described below:

Area of Interest 1: ImPOWER—Improvements to Coal Combustion Power Plants

  • Mid IR Laser Sensor for Continuous SO3 Monitoring to Improve Coal-Fired Power Plant Performance during Flexible OperationsOpto-Knowledge Systems Inc. (Torrance, CA) plans to produce and demonstrate a continuous SO3 (sulfur trioxide) monitor for coal-fired power plants. The expected outcome of this project is a validation of a sensor that can provide continuous, accurate measurements of SO3. Having such information would allow better control of the alkali-injection systems used to mitigate SO3.
    DOE Funding: $500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $125,000; Total Value: $625,000

  • Application of Artificial Intelligence Techniques Enabling Coal-Fired Power Plants the Ability to Achieve Higher Efficiency, Improved Availability, and Increased Reliability of Their OperationsSparkCognition Inc. (Austin, TX) plans to use existing sensor and operational data being collected at coal-fired power plants and apply its machine-learning algorithms to detect and diagnose premature equipment failure. Benefits from successful completion of this project include optimizing the sensor inputs needed for fault detection, understanding the impacts of control decisions due to flexible operations, and extending the life of critical equipment.
    DOE Funding: $499,911; Non-DOE Funding: $206,827; Total Value: $706,738

  • Ultrasonic Measurements of Temperature Profile and Heat Fluxes in Coal-Fired Power Plants—The University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT) intends to advance the technology-readiness level of a novel ultrasound method for the real-time measurement of temperature profiles in different combustion zones and components of utility boilers. A prototype multipoint measurement system will be developed and validated in a power plant. The technology will present an economic and scalable option to optimize the efficiency of current and future fossil power systems.
    DOE Funding: $500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $125,000; Total Value: $625,000

  • High-Temperature Gas Sensor for Coal Combustion SystemWest Virginia University (Morgantown, WV) plans to (1) investigate the feasibility and sensitivity of a new sensor design to detect target gases at high temperatures, and (2) integrate and test the basic components of the proposed sensor in a commercial power plant. The information gathered would allow plant operators to become more knowledgeable about combustion conditions, leading to better control of those conditions.
    DOE Funding: $500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $135,414; Total Value: $635,414

Area of Interest 2: Characterization of Long-Term Service Coal Combustion Power Plant Extreme Environment Materials

  • Provide Comprehensive Database of Mechanical Properties, Damage Assessment/Accumulation Microstructural Information from Extreme Environment Material (EEM) Components Subjected to Long-Term Service—The Electric Power Research Institute (Palo Alto, CA) aims to provide a comprehensive database of mechanical properties, damage assessment/accumulation, and microstructural information from EEM components subjected to long-term service. The data will be used to develop, calibrate, refine, and/or validate tools used for predicting remaining life under complex operating conditions. Such data is vital for ensuring long-term safety and reliability of coal combustion power plants.
    DOE Funding: $2,000,000; Non-DOE Funding: $500,000; Total Value: $2,500,000

Area of Interest 3: Fossil Energy Extreme Environment Materials Model Development

  • Multi-Modal Approach to Modeling Creep Deformation in Ni-Base SuperalloysMissouri State University (Springfield, MO) plans to develop a new, multi-modal approach to modeling creep deformation in nickel-base superalloys. The proposed scope of the work covers rapid acquisition, data-mining, and multi-scale modeling of the creep behaviors in these superalloys. Successful completion of this project will provide a new framework that will create quantitatively better predictive creep models.
    DOE Funding: $737,485; Non-DOE Funding: $210,839; Total Value: $948,324
  • High Throughput Computational Framework of Materials Properties for Extreme EnvironmentsThe Pennsylvania State University (University Park, PA) intends to establish a computational framework to efficiently predict the properties of structural materials for service in harsh environments over a wide range of temperatures and long periods of time. Successful development of this framework will enable more rapid design of materials and offer the research community the capability to develop more tools because of the open-source nature of the framework. DOE Funding: $749,934; Non-DOE Funding: $187,902; Total Value: $937,836

Area of Interest 4: Innovative Concepts for Water Management in Coal Power Generation Systems

  • Interphase Materials Application of HTE System for Improved Efficiency of Power Plant CondensersInterphase Materials (Pittsburgh, PA) plans to make use of their high-temperature electrolysis (HTE) system—a surface treatment for water-based industrial cooling systems. The HTE system would improve condenser efficiency in coal-fired power plants and reduce continuous-feed water-treatment technologies. Successful demonstration of the system could help coal-fired plants reduce emissions and potentially lower the amount of chlorine and other water-treatment chemicals that plants apply to their cooling systems. This, in turn, could lower maintenance costs, increase hardware life cycles, and help plants maintain long-term high-efficiency operation.
    DOE Funding: $750,000; Non-DOE Funding: $243,000; Total Value: $993,000
  • Novel Patterned Surfaces for Improved Condenser Performance in Power PlantsVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg, VA) plans to improve thermoelectric power plant performance through novel surface designs that can enhance heat transfer. The proposed work could lead to novel, industrially scalable, and low-cost fabrication of durable super-hydrophobic surfaces for major gains in system efficiencies, plant performance, energy savings, and reduced emissions.
    DOE Funding: $749,898; Non-DOE Funding: $188,572; Total Value: $938,470

Area of Interest 5: Effluent Water Management at Coal-Fired Energy Plants

  • Energy Efficient Waste Heat Coupled Forward Osmosis for Effluent Water Management at Coal-Fired Power Plants—The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (Urbana, IL) plans to evaluate a novel water-treatment system called the Aquapod©. The system has been adapted to manage effluents, meet cooling water demands, and conserve water in power plants. Successful development of the Aquapod© system may double to quadruple the amount of water recovery from power plant effluents per unit of input energy compared to current state-of-the-art technologies.
    DOE Funding: $743,410; Non-DOE Funding: $186,207; Total Value: $929,617
  • Development of a High-Efficiency, Membrane-Based Wastewater Management System for Thermal Power PlantsSRI International (Menlo Park, CA) intends to develop innovative practices for managing effluent at coal-fired energy plants. The technology will enable the removal of toxic materials and provide a development opportunity for methods to reduce a plant’s water use, thereby reducing freshwater withdrawals. Successful development of the technology will greatly reduce the energy use in effluent-control systems in thermal power stations.
    DOE Funding: $639,949; Non-DOE Funding: $160,000; Total Value: $799,949

  • Intensified Flue Gas Desulfurization Water Treatment for Reuse, Solidification, and Discharge—The University of Kentucky Research Foundation (Lexington, KY) plans to develop hybrid electrochemical and membrane technology for treating flue gas desulfurization wastewater. The project has the potential to reduce the footprint of a physical/chemical treatment process and lessen withdrawals of fresh water at power-generation plants.
    DOE Funding: $749,359; Non-DOE Funding: $192,360; Total Value: $941,719

The Office of Fossil Energy funds research and development projects to reduce the risk and cost of advanced fossil energy technologies and further the sustainable use of the Nation’s fossil resources. To learn more about the programs within the Office of Fossil Energy, visit the Office of Fossil Energy website or sign up for FE news announcements. More information about the National Energy Technology Laboratory is available on the NETL website.