FY 2014 Projects for Improving the Design, Construction, and Operation of Fossil Energy Systems

Office of Fossil Energy

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In FY 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy selected 38 new projects from across the nation under the Crosscutting Research Program that target innovative concepts and technologies to improve electric generating units and industrial plants that use fossil fuels. The selected projects support the Office of Fossil Energy’s Crosscutting Research Program’s initiatives in advanced energy systems.

The Crosscutting Research Program serves as a bridge between basic and applied research by targeting concepts that offer the potential for transformational breakthroughs and step-change benefits in the way energy systems are designed, constructed, and operated.

The 38 projects selected support 7 critical research areas in the Crosscutting Research Program as described below. Approximately $5.8 million of the project’s total value is provided via cost-share by research partners, in addition to $18.5 million in federal funds. FE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory will manage the projects.

Innovative Concepts for Managing Water in Fossil-Fuel-Based Energy Systems

  • Institute of Gas Technology dba Gas Technology Institute (Des Plaines, Ill.) — Simultaneous Waste Heat and Water Recovery from Power Plant Flue Gases for Advanced Energy Systems. The project team will further develop an existing transport membrane condenser (TMC) to increase water and energy recovery efficiency, at least double waste heat and water recovery performance, and lower its cost for power plant applications. Work on the project will be done in a TMC development, modeling, evaluation, and fabrication phase, and then proceed to a performance testing phase. The advanced TMC technology has the potential to reduce emissions and solid wastes by improving boiler efficiency and could potentially save $4.3 billion in water savings if applied to all U.S. power generation. (DOE share: $500,000; Recipient share: $130,000; Duration: 23 months)
  • Southern Company Services, Inc. (Birmingham, Ala.) — Development of a Field Demonstration for Cost-Effective Low-Grade Heat Recovery and Use Technology Designed to Improve Efficiency and Reduce Water Usage Rates for a Coal-Fired Power Plant. In this project, an engineering study will be conducted as a prelude to a field demonstration of how low-grade waste heat can be used to reduce water usage rates and improve system efficiency in a coal-fired power plant. Researchers will survey U.S. coal generators on low-grade heat-recovery and low-grade heat use to develop a combination technology for pilot testing. The project will develop a plan to successfully perform a field demonstration of a cost-effective system for heat recovery and end use. (DOE share: $280,337; Recipient share: $141,807; Duration: 18 months)
  • Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, Pa.) — Evaluating the Techno-Economic Feasibility of Forward Osmosis Process Utilizing Low Grade Heat: Applications in Power Plant Water, Wastewater, and Reclaimed Water Treatment. Using a series of heat recovery models and water treatment process models, this work will demonstrate the economic feasibility and environmental benefits of recovering low-temperature heat. The technology will be applied to water treatment at NETL model pulverized coal combustion, natural gas combined cycle, and integrated gasification combined cycle plants; and at Carnegie Mellon University’s industry partner plant (Plant Bowen). (DOE share: $499,536; Recipient share: $274,801; Duration: 23 months)
  • Porifera, Inc. (Hayward, Calif.) — The COHO: Utilizing Low‐Grade Heat and CO2 at Power Plants for Water Treatment. This project will develop a water treatment system called COHOthat will be powered by low-grade heat and carbon dioxide (CO2) produced at power plants. It combines the high performance of a novel forward-osmosis membrane with a CO2-based switchable draw that has the potential to reduce wastewater and energy costs, while expanding the capabilities of water treatment, and reducing the cost of carbon capture from flue gas. (DOE share: $499,940; Recipient share: $125,454; Duration: 16 months)
  • Southern Research Institute (Birmingham, Ala.) — Treatment of Produced Water from Carbon Sequestration Sites for Water Reuse, Mineral Recovery, and Carbon Utilization. Researchers will develop an approach to maximize water reuse during CO2 injection for storage by evaporating concentrated pretreated brine water into solids that can be stabilized for landfills. Additionally, moisture in the flue gas will be recovered and reused by condensing the flue gas with supercritical CO2. The project is expected to result in opportunities to recover strategic and rare earth minerals, utilize CO2 and reuse water in the field at carbon capture and storage sites. (DOE share: $500,000; Recipient share: $153,686; Duration: 23 months)
  • University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, Pa.) — Development of Membrane Distillation Technology Utilizing Waste Heat for Treatment of High-Salinity Wastewaters.  This project will determine the feasibility of using membrane distillation technology to treat high-salinity wastewaters generated during unconventional gas production or CO2 sequestration by using waste heat from thermoelectric power plants or compressor stations. (DOE share: $496,805; Recipient share: $157,378; Duration: 23 months)
  • General Electric Company (Niskayuna, N.Y.) — Water Desalination Using Multiphase Turbo-Expander. This project will address the technical and economic feasibility of a multiphase (air, liquid, and solid) turbo-expander water desalination process that is designed to decrease water cost by 20 percent compared to thermal evaporation. The technology is capable of treating brine with up to 23 percent total dissolved solids by demonstrating at least 80 percent brine freeze in the expander. (DOE share: $491,940; Recipient share: $122,985; Duration: 17 months)
  • Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois (Urbana, Ill.) — An Integrated Supercritical System for Efficient Produced Water Treatment and Power Generation. This project will evaluate the feasibility of an innovative, integrated, supercritical cogeneration system for cost-effective treatment of produced waters from CO2 sequestration, oilfields, and coal-bed methane recovery by using methane or coal as an energy source. This approach will generate power from coal or natural gas, purify water from high-salinity saline or produced water, and recover valuable and strategic minerals in a zero liquid discharge plant. Water will be treated at a lower cost due to higher efficiencies compared to existing cogeneration or evaporation/crystallization systems. (DOE share: $499,427; Recipient share: $156,884; Duration: 23 months)
  • Research Triangle Institute (Research Triangle Park, N.C.) — Fouling-Resistant Membranes for Treating Concentrated Brines for Water Reuse in Advanced Energy Systems. This project will develop a new class of advanced membranes to distill wastewaters in a process called electronically conductive membrane distillation (ECMD) and mitigate the fouling issues that occur during water reuse. The project will demonstrate that membrane distillation can recover at least 50 percent of wastewater with a total-dissolved-solids concentration of 180,000 mg/L and develop ECMD membranes that have improved fouling resistance.  (DOE share: $500,000; Recipient share: $125,00; Duration: 23 months)

Advanced Oxygen Separation Technology

  • Institute of Gas Technology (Des Plaines, Ill.) — Production of High-Purity O2 via Membrane Contactor with Oxygen Carrier Solutions. The goal of this project is to achieve proof-of-concept of an innovative oxygen production technology using a hollow fiber membrane contactor with an oxygen carrier solution as solvent and air as feed to produce oxygen with greater than 95 percent purity, and to achieve an oxygen production rate capable of being used in oxygen-intensive industries at a cost substantially below the current benchmarks for commercially available standalone air separation units. (DOE share: $499,998; Recipient share: $131,606; Duration: 23 months)
  • TDA Research (Wheat Ridge, Colo.) — Cost-effective Air Separation System. This work will develop a new chemical absorbent-based air separation process that can operate at high temperatures and deliver low-cost oxygen to various advanced power generation systems. This sorbent selectively removes oxygen to effectively utilize the large amounts of energy in a high-pressure oxygen-depleted stream, resulting in a very efficient air separation system. Researchers will increase the commercial viability of the new technology by demonstrating continuous oxygen generation in a continuous circulating bed system, and by conducting a high-fidelity system design and economic analysis. (DOE share: $500,000; Recipient share: $125,000; Duration: 23 months)
  • University of Wyoming Research Corp dba Western Research Institute (Laramie, Wyo.) — Sorbent-Based Oxygen Production for Energy Systems. In this project, researchers will develop a high-temperature sorbent-based oxygen production technology that will use perovskites to adsorb oxygen from air in a solid sorbent, and release the adsorbed oxygen into a sweep gas, such as CO2 for gasification systems or recycled flue gas for oxy-combustion systems. The operation will decrease the cost of producing oxygen by as much as 60 percent compared to a cryogenic air separation unit. (DOE share: $500,000; Recipient share: $600,000; Duration: 23 months)
  • University of South Carolina (Columbia, S.C.) — Intermediate Temperature Nanostructured Ceramic Hollow Fiber Membranes for Oxygen Separation. This project will study advanced fabrication technologies to develop nanostructured ceramic hollow fiber membranes for air separation and oxygen production in oxygen-intensive industries. These membrane designs are expected to significantly and simultaneously improve both bulk diffusion and surface reactions.  (DOE share: $500,000; Recipient share: $125,517; Duration: 23 months)

Transformational Concepts in Coal Gasification

  • University of Wyoming (Laramie, Wyo.) — Catalytic PRB Coal-CO2 Gasification for Fuels and Chemicals with Two Different Types of Syngas (1st- CO + zero CH4; 2nd- H2: CO: CH4 = 2:1: near-zero) and Negative or Low CO2 Emissions. Researchers will use Wyoming’s resource of Powder River Basin (PRB) subbituminous coal to overcome the high concentration of methane in syngas from conventional gasification processes. The technology will use a new, inexpensive composite catalyst prepared from two widely available minerals in an integrated gasification process with two steps: catalytic CO2-coal pyrolysis and CO2-char gasification.  (DOE share: $490,000; Recipient share: $123,580; Duration: 23 months)
  • University of Kentucky Research Foundation (Lexington, Ky.) — Application of Chemical Looping with Spouting Fluidized Bed for Hydrogen-Rich Syngas Production from Catalytic Coal Gasification. A novel catalytic coal gasification technology will be developed that will reactivate catalysts for gasification and high-temperature catalytic syngas reforming to produce electricity and hydrogen-rich, methane-free syngas for fuels and chemicals. (DOE share: $481,471; Recipient share: $120,657; Duration: 23 months)
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg, Va.) — Advancing Coal Catalytic Gasification to Promote Optimum Syngas Production. Researchers will use a synergistic approach based on experiments, reaction kinetics, and computational fluid dynamics to evaluate and recommend advanced catalytic coal gasification for optimum synthesis gas production. Specifically, red mud catalyst will be used to gasify subbituminous coal, and the resulting methane production will be studied. (DOE share: $499,999; Recipient share: $125,389; Duration: 23 months)
  • Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University (Carbondale, Ill.) — Optimized Microbial Conversion of Bituminous Coal to Methane for In Situ and Ex Situ Applications. This project seeks to maximize methane productivity from bituminous coal in a dynamic system. To achieve this goal, the applicant will simplify the composition of a previously used nutrient solution; maximize methane yield; and investigate methane production through various methods. (DOE share: $499,989; Recipient share: $243,610; Duration: 23 months)
  • Montana State University (Bozeman, Mont.) — Increasing the Rate and Extent of Microbial Coal-to-Methane Conversion through Optimization of Microbial Activity, Thermodynamics, and Reactive Transport. Researchers will determine the chemical and biological parameters limiting methane production from coal; develop strategies to optimize the microbially enhanced coal-bed methane technology based on thermodynamic and reactive transport considerations; and scale up laboratory microcosms to optimize microbial coal-to-methane production in column flow reactors. The resulting knowledge will be used to develop technology to produce methane more quickly and extensively in unmineable coal beds with predominantly biogenic methane production. (DOE share: $500,000; Recipient share: $125,000; Duration: 23 months)
  • University of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah.) — Ceramic Proppant Design for In-Situ Microbially Enhanced Methane Recovery. The overall objective of this project is to develop new technology to enhance the economic viability of in-situ microbial coal to methane conversion within otherwise unmineable fossil fuel resources by demonstrating a new method for delivering microbes to the reservoir, and selecting the bacterial consortium and nutrient combination that will yield the most economical methane production rate. (DOE share: $371,513; Recipient share: $92,878; Duration: 23 months)

Innovative Concepts for High-Temperature Heat Exchange and Heat Recovery

  • Alstom Power, Inc. (Windsor, Conn.) — Advanced Ultrasupercritical (AUSC) Tube Membrane Panel Development. This work will develop and verify the manufacturability of welded tube membrane panels made from high-performance materials suitable for use in a fossil-fired boiler operating at AUSC steam cycles. The challenge lies in the fact that the membrane-welded construction imposes high heat demands on the materials. The AUSC steam cycle will require that the membrane-welded tube panels be fabricated from an advanced alloy rather than from one of the traditional alloys. (DOE share: $500,00; Recipient share: $166, 667; Duration: 23 months) 
  • Altex Technologies Corporation (Sunnyvale, Calif.) — Low-Cost Recuperative Heat Exchanger for Supercritical Carbon Dioxide (scCO2) Power Systems. Under this project, researchers will develop a highly effective, low-cost recuperative heat exchanger for supercritical CO2 waste heat power systems that will operate under high-temperature and high-differential-pressure environments. Test results will be used to assess the heat exchanger performance, define cost reductions (expected to be in the range of 60 percent), and determine the commercialization potential of the heat exchanger. (DOE share $499,616.30; Recipient share: $234,600; Duration: 19 months)
  • Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group, Inc. (Baberton, Ohio) — High-Temperature Heat Exchangers Component Test Facility (ComTest) Phase 1 Engineering for 760 degrees Celsius (1400 degrees Fahrenheit) Advanced Ultrasupercritical (AUSC) Steam Generator Development. The Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group will perform the front-end engineering design of an AUSC steam superheater for a proposed component test program achieving 760oC (1400oF) steam temperature. The project will provide a means to exercise the complete supply chain events required to practice and perfect the process for A-USC power plant design, supply, manufacture, construction, commissioning, operation, and maintenance. (DOE share: $499,994; Recipient share: $158,428; Duration: 23 months)
  • Brayton Energy, LLC (Hampton, N.H.) — High-Volume Manufacturing Process Development for Low-Cost High-Performance Heat Exchangers for sCO2 Applications. This work relates to a heat-exchanger concept with the pressure resistance and thermal strain tolerance needed to withstand operation in an elevated-temperature supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) environment. The design uses the heat transfer surface morphology of screen mesh. Successful development of the manufacturing methods proposed would enable the production of compact, low-cost, high-performance, long-life heat exchangers suitable for use in scCO2 applications. (DOE share: $500,000; Recipient share: $125,000; Duration: 15 months)
  • Oregon State University (Corvallis, Ore.) — Design, Fabrication and Characterization of Microchannel Heat Exchangers for Fossil-Fired Supercritical CO2 Cycles. This work will develop reliable, versatile, effective, low-pressure-drop designs for high-temperature, high-pressure heat exchangers for fossil-fired supercritical plants by manufacturing microchannel architectures through microlamination and additive manufacturing. The project will enable ultra-compact, highly effective, and low-pressure-drop designs of heat exchangers for fossil-fired supercritical cycles. (DOE share: $499,410; Recipient share: $138,989; Duration: 23 months)       
  • Thar Energy LLC (Pittsburgh, Pa.) — High Temperature Heat Exchange Design and Fabrication for Systems with Large Pressure Differentials. Using computational fluid dynamics, heat transfer, and structural analysis, researchers will design a compact heat exchanger for operation at high temperature and high pressure. This heat exchanger is intended for use in high-efficiency electrical generation systems, such as supercritical CO2 power cycles. A prototype heat exchanger will be fabricated and tested to demonstrate selected material and manufacturing technique compatibility. (DOE share: $500,000; Recipient share: $125,000; Duration: 11 months)
  • Mohawk Innovative Technology, Inc. (Albany, N.Y.) — High-Temperature Ceramic Heat Exchanger for Solid Oxide Fuel Cell. In this project, researchers will develop a highly effective low-pressure-drop ceramic heat exchanger to work as a preheater for solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) applications. The addition of the proposed ceramic heat exchanger will advance the state of the art in fuel cell technology and pave the way for increased efficiency and reliability of future systems. Low pressure drop will contribute to lower system cost and increase overall SOFC efficiency. When properly integrated with the SOFC, higher power density is achieved and more flexible operation will be possible. (DOE share: $500,000; Recipient share: $125,000; Duration: 23 months)
  • West Virginia University Research Corporation (Morgantown, W.Va.) — Ceramic High-Temperature Thermoelectric Heat Exchanger and Heat Recuperators in Power Generation Systems.  This project will develop compact and highly efficient all-oxide ceramic thermoelectric generators to work as compact heat exchangers and simultaneously recover the high-temperature waste heat in the air from high-temperature power systems such as SOFCs. Overall, the thermoelectric devices proposed in this project will be highly efficient, low weight, reduced size, non-toxic, and highly stable in air at high temperatures for powering the sensors at temperatures in the 600–980 °C range. Combining thermoelectric devices with SOFCs will help increase electricity production by more than 15 percent, or increase system electrical efficiency by 5 percent. (DOE share: $499,981; Recipient share: $127,179; Duration: 23 months)
  • Ceralink, Inc. (Troy, N.Y.) — Additive Manufacturing for Cost-Efficient Production of Compact Ceramic Heat Exchangers and Recuperators. Under this project, researchers will design and build a compact high-temperature ceramic heat exchanger as a key component for high-efficiency advanced power generation systems. A 25 percent increase in efficiency of the microturbine thermal cycle is anticipated based on Ceralink’s novel design and materials, which will offer significant fuel savings and CO2 emission reduction. (DOE share: $500,000; Recipient share: $125,000; Duration: 11 months)
  • Ceramatec, Inc. (Salt Lake City, Utah) — Compact, Ceramic Microchannel Heat Exchangers. This work will obtain performance data for prototype compact ceramic microchannel heat exchangers capable of improving power plant efficiency. This project will advance the technology toward commercial readiness and validate the potential for a step change in system efficiency at a commercially viable cost. (DOE share: $399,922; Recipient share: $100,000; Duration: 24 months)
  • Southwest Research Institute (San Antonio, Texas) — Development of a Thin Film Primary Surface Heat Exchanger for Advanced Power Cycles. This design and analysis effort aims to significantly increase the temperature rating of a primary surface heat exchanger used for recuperation in existing gas turbines. Operation at higher temperatures is necessary for use in advanced cycles with overall cycle efficiencies exceeding 50 percent. At these higher temperatures, significant work in technology development, design, and testing is necessary to produce a recuperator that maintains performance at a minimal cost increase while maintaining an extended life. (DOE share: $500,000; Recipient share: $125,000; Duration: 11 months)

Computational Design and Performance Prediction of Materials.

  • The Pennsylvania State University (State College, Pa.) — Computational Design and Discovery of Ni-Based Alloys and Coatings: Thermodynamic Approaches Validated by Experiments. In this project, researchers will develop a thermodynamic foundation for the accelerated design of Nickel (Ni)-based alloys and coatings. The information derived from this project will be essential for the efficient design and performance prediction of alloys, coatings, and coating/alloy combinations. The project will also develop an automated thermodynamic modeling tool that will more efficiently arrive at accurate thermodynamic descriptions and enhance computational alloy and coating design. (DOE share: $500,000; Recipient share: $132,176; Duration: 23 months)
  • The University of Tennessee (Knoxville, Tenn.) — Computational Design and Performance Prediction of Creep-Resistant Ferritic Superalloys. This work will develop and integrate modern computational tools and algorithms to design high-temperature alloys for applications in fossil energy power plants, and to understand the processing-microstructure-property-performance links underlying the creep behavior of novel ferritic alloys. Simulations will be developed to guide alloy design with optimal microstructural parameters to improve the creep resistance of ferritic superalloys for applications in fossil energy power plants. (DOE share: $500,000; Recipient share: $126,681; Duration: 23 months)
  • Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (Charlotte, N.C.) — To Provide an Oxidation/Corrosion Model to Predict the Performance of Structural Alloys in Supercritical CO2 in Severe Operating Environments at High Temperatures. This work will provide computational predictions of the performance of structural alloys in supercritical CO2 in severe, high-temperature operating environments. Results of this work will be used as a basis for materials selection in advanced CO2 power cycles, which offer the potential for step-changes in efficiency and carbon mitigation in fossil energy power systems. (DOE share: $488,948; Recipient share: $162, 237; Duration: 23 months)
  • General Electric Company (Niskayuna, N.Y.) — Molding Long-Term Creep Performance for Welded Ni-Base Superalloy Structures for Power Generation Systems. Work in this project will combine modeling and critical diagnostic and validation experiments to correctly account for microstructure variation, and to predict accurate creep behavior over long time periods for nickel-base alloys. The work will accelerate development and qualification for insertion of new materials in advanced power generation systems. In addition, the methodologies and algorithms developed will provide a more efficient and accurate assessment of a material’s long-term performance, compared with the current testing and extrapolation methods. It is also expected to help predict performance of structural alloys subjected to high-temperature creep under realistic loading conditions of actual power generation components. (DOE share: $499,755; Recipient share: $149,952; Duration: 23 months)
  • Oregon State University (Corvallis, Ore.) — New Mechanistic Models of Long Term Evolution of Microstructure and Mechanical Properties of Nickel-Based Alloys. This work will create and validate a robust, multiscale, mechanism-based model that quantitatively predicts long-term evolution of microstructure for nickel-based alloys, and the effect on mechanical properties such as creep and rupture strength. A successful model could be embedded into standard design software used by fossil energy system designers to greatly improve their ability to design safe energy systems. (DOE share $499,998; Recipient share: $125,001; Duration: 23 months)

Advanced Materials Manufacturing

  • Edison Welding Institute, Inc. (Columbus, Ohio) — Additive Manufacturing of Fuel Injectors. This work will develop a novel process to qualify the additive manufacturing process for nickel alloy complex gas turbine components that can withstand high temperatures. The goal is to confirm that using additive manufacturing to build components will improve quality and lower manufacturing cost without negatively impacting durability. (DOE share: $497,228; Recipient share: $125,156: Duration 23 months)
  • Energy Industries of Ohio (Columbus, Ohio) — Benefits of Tailoring Hot Isostatic Pressure/Powdered Metal (HIP/PM) and Additive Manufacturing (AM) to Fabricate Advanced Energy System Components. Researchers in this project will create a robust manufacturing design approach with the potential to further reduce manufacturing costs and product variability, improve product recovery, and allow the production of more precisely designed structural and functional materials for manufacturing advanced alloys. Three novel approaches will be pursued, combining conventional material processing technologies that have been tailored to the fabrication of components from advanced materials not previously manufactured on a large scale. (DOE share: $500,000; Recipient share: $125,000; Duration: 23 months)

Advanced Topping Cycles to Improve Power Plant Performance

  • The University of Texas at El Paso (El Paso, Texas) — High-Temperature, High-Velocity Direct Power Extraction Using an Open-Cycle Oxy-Combustion System. Under this project, university researchers will design, optimize, and test a lab-scale high-velocity and high-temperature oxy-fuel combustor, nozzle, and injector for use in direct power extraction magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) applications. The effort will demonstrate the feasibility of MHD oxy-combustion system components for use in electrical power generation, and support the development of energy-efficient technologies. In addition, the outcome of the project will not only improve the fundamental understanding of oxy-fuel combustion but also provide critical experimental data for the validation of modeling tools. (DOE share: $500, 000; Recipient share: $125,000; Duration: 23 months)