The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) has selected nine projects to receive approximately $12 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development projects. These projects aim to address critical technology gaps and develop transformational advanced combustion system technologies that will improve the efficiency and reliability of existing power plants.

These projects were selected as part of the Advanced Combustion Systems (ACS) Program through the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0001728, Advanced Combustion Systems: Existing Plant Improvements and Transformational Technologies. 

By making substantial progress toward enabling cost-competitive, coal-based power-generation systems, the selected projects will enable the expanded use of coal, while also meeting the goal of achieving near-zero pollutant emissions and improving the near and long term economics of the systems. The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) will manage the projects, which fall under two areas of interest and are described below.

Area of Interest 1: Advanced Combustion Coal Power Plant Improvement Technologies

Subtopic 1A: Condition-Based Monitoring of Coal-Based Power Generation Boilers

Improving Coal-Fired Plant Performance through Integrated Predictive and Condition-Based Monitoring ToolsMicrobeam Technologies Incorporated (Grand Forks, ND) aims to demonstrate improvements to boiler performance and reliability in coal-fired power plants using condition-based monitoring. The approach develops a tool that alerts plant operators and engineers about poor boiler conditions. The goal is to integrate the operations of the tool into plant control systems and plant operating parameters. These improvements will potentially allow automation of coal selection and blending and will enhance the efficiency and long-term reliability of coal plants.

DOE Funding: $1,384,560; Non-DOE Funding: $437,930; Total Value: $1,822,490

Technology Maturation of Wireless Harsh-Environment Sensors for Improved Condition-Based Monitoring of Coal-Fired Power GenerationThe University of Maine (Orono, ME) will develop, adapt, implement, test, and transition wireless harsh-environment sensor technology in coal-fired power plants. The technology offers several advantages for inline monitoring of coal-based power generation systems—including accurate, battery-free, maintenance-free wireless operation. The small footprint of the sensors will potentially allow flexible placement and embedding of multiple arrays into a variety of components that can be sampled with a nearby interrogating antenna and radio frequency signal processing unit.

DOE Funding: $1,999,703; Non-DOE Funding: $504,722; Total Value: $2,504,425

High Temperature Electrochemical Sensors for In-Situ Corrosion Monitoring in Coal-Based Power Generation BoilersWest Virginia University Research Corporation (Morgantown, WV) will validate the effectiveness of their previous electrochemical high-temperature corrosion sensor in coal-based power-generation boilers; optimize the high-temperature sensor; and develop a pathway toward commercialization. Sensors will be tested at bench and commercial scales. Commercial-scale sensors will be optimized for a specific type of advanced supercritical boiler. Bench-scale sensors will be tested under a range of operating conditions that would serve a variety of coal-fired combustion boilers.

DOE Funding: $1,334,953; Non-DOE Funding: $341,734; Total Value: $1,676,687

Subtopic 1B: Near-Term Opportunities for Coal-Based Units

Low Load Boiler Operation to Improve Performance and Economics of an Existing Coal-Fired Power Plant—Alstom Power Inc. (Windsor, CT) intends to improve the performance and economics of existing coal-fired power plants by extending boiler operation to lower loads. The objective is to develop and validate sensor hardware and analytical algorithms to lower plant operating expenses for the pulverized coal utility boiler fleet. The focus is on relatively inexpensive new interconnected technologies to minimize capital investment.

DOE Funding: $851,664; Non-DOE Funding: $212,916; Total Value: $1,064,580

Evaluation of Steam Cycle Upgrades to Improve the Competitiveness of U.S. Coal Power PlantsThe Electric Power Research Institute (Charlotte, NC) will examine the technical and economic feasibility of a series of steam cycle upgrades to subcritical and supercritical pulverized coal units, the two most prevalent types of U.S. coal power plants. The project will develop and evaluate nine separate retrofit options and will examine the business case for raising steam temperatures of existing units within the U.S. coal fleet.

DOE Funding: $1,179,839; Non-DOE Funding: $302,157; Total Value: $1,481,996

Advanced Anti-Fouling Coatings to Improve Coal-Fired Condenser EfficiencyOceanit Laboratories, Inc. (Honolulu, HI) plans to improve the performance and economics of coal-fired utilities and industrial-scale boilers through the reduction of fouling and the promotion of dropwise condensation using a composite coating material that has demonstrated adhesion and abrasion resistance, which may be used on heat conducting surfaces without impacting heat transfer.

DOE Funding: $2,000,000; Non-DOE Funding: $500,000; Total Value: $2,500,000

Area of Interest 2: Advanced Combustion Enabling Technologies and Advanced Concepts

Subtopic 2A: Chemical Looping Combustion

Low-Cost and Recyclable Oxygen Carrier and Novel Process for Chemical Looping CombustionThe University of North Dakota (Grand Forks, ND) intends to demonstrate a transformational technology for chemical looping combustion that overcomes two challenges to commercial deployment: the high cost of oxygen carrier replacement/loss and incomplete fuel conversion. A techno-economic analysis will be completed for the technology based on testing results and will benchmark the technology to current state-of-the-art chemical looping combustion processes.

DOE Funding: $1,500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $375,000; Total Value: $1,875,000

Subtopic 2B: Pressurized Oxy-combustion

Particle Separator for Improved Flameless Pressurized Oxy-CombustionThe Southwest Research Institute (San Antonio, TX) plans to develop, build and test a flue gas particle separator for the flameless pressurized oxy-combustion cycle. The particle separator will potentially remove harmful particulates from the process flue gas, preventing erosion of downstream machinery while maintaining a low pressure drop, ensuring maximum efficiency.

DOE Funding: $881,217; Non-DOE Funding: $220,693; Total Value: $1,101,910

Subtopic 2C: Advanced Concepts and Novel Approaches

Advanced Cost-Effective Coal-Fired Rotating Detonation Combustor for High Efficiency Power GenerationThe University of Central Florida Board of Trustees (Orlando, FL) plans to explore the operability, dynamics, and performance of coal-fired rotating detonation combustors over a range of conditions by using advanced diagnostic and computational techniques. The primary objectives include development of an operability map for an established coal-fired rotating detonation combustor configuration; experimental and computational investigation and characterization of coal-fired combustor detonation wave dynamics; measurement and demonstration of pressure gain throughout the combustor operational envelope; and measurement and demonstration of low-nitrogen oxide emissions throughout operation.

DOE Funding: $999,915; Non-DOE Funding: $290,974; Total Value: $1,290,889

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.