The Plant Optimization Technologies Program is a diverse, scientifically oriented research and development program that addresses issues affecting the way coal is used. The program's primary emphasis is to support the development of advanced technologies that use coal with near-zero emissions.

To provide this support, the program identifies scientific and technological needs and develops a basic understanding of the underlying chemical and physical processes that, unless resolved, could create a technological barrier to these new coal-based concepts.

The program serves as a bridge between basic science and the fabrication and testing of new technologies. Currently researchers supported by this program are working on:

Sensors, Controls and Other Novel Concepts

The Sensors & Control element focuses on the development of novel sensors critical to the implementation and optimization of advanced fossil fuel-based power generation systems, including new classes of sensors capable of monitoring key parameters (temperature, pressure, and gas composition) and operating in harsh environments. This involves development of innovative analytical techniques for on-line industrial use, along with technologies that meet the immediate high-priority measurement need. The controls development work centers around self-organizing information networks and distributed intelligence for process control and decision making. This activity also embeds other novel concepts that possess the potential for eliminating technology barriers in fossil energy systems. These novel concepts include: investigating fundamental combustion chemistry to discern rates and mechanisms affecting emissions behavior under combustion/ gasification conditions; examining the fundamental parameters, kinetics, and thermodynamics involved in CO2 mineral sequestration; and, initiating a broad scope of technology development for advanced power systems.

Water Management R&D

The Water Management Research and Development (R&D) element supports sustainability and improved water efficiency with the goal of reducing freshwater usage and consumption in thermoelectric cooling applications. Focused R&D includes developing technologies to reduce water use and processes for treating water produced within a plant and those produced by injection of carbon dioxide in deep saline aquifers. This includes exploratory research and concept development of desalination processes for the beneficial reuse of such waters from carbon capture and storage activities.  Water Management R&D also explores innovative filtration technologies, including membrane-based, evaporative, chemical, electrochemical and biological systems for the purpose of producing potable water and exploits the opportunity for water-limited cooling provided by the supercritical carbon dioxide fuel cycle.