New Clean Coal Technology Exceeds EPA Requirements!
New Coal Technology Harnesses Energy Without Burning.
COLUMBUS, Ohio—A new form of clean coal technology reached an important milestone recently, with the successful operation of a research-scale combustion system at Ohio State University. The technology is now ready for use on a larger scale.
For 203 continuous hours, the Ohio State combustion unit produced heat from coal while capturing 99 percent of the carbon dioxide produced in the reaction.
Liang-Shih Fan, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and director of Ohio State’s Clean Coal Research Laboratory, pioneered the technology called Coal-Direct Chemical Looping (CDCL), which chemically harnesses coal’s energy and efficiently contains the carbon dioxide produced before it can be released into the atmosphere.
“In the simplest sense, combustion is a chemical reaction that consumes oxygen and produces heat,” Fan said. “Unfortunately, it also produces carbon dioxide, which is difficult to capture and bad for the environment. So we found a way to release the heat without burning. We carefully control the chemical reaction so that the coal never burns—it is consumed chemically, and the carbon dioxide is entirely contained inside the reactor.”
Dawei Wang, a research associate and one of the group's team leaders, described the technology’s potential benefits to promote coal energy. Not only can we use America's natural resources such as Ohio coal, but we can keep our air clean and spur the economy with jobs," he said.
Fan agreed that the nine-day experiment was a success. “In the two years we’ve been running the sub-pilot plants, our CDCL and SCL units have achieved a combined 830 operating hours, which clearly demonstrates the reliability and operability of our design,” he said.
At any one time, the units each produce about 25 thermal kilowatts—that is, thermal energy, which in a full-scale power plant would be used to heat water and turn the steam-powered turbines that create electricity.
The carbon dioxide is separated and can be recycled or sequestered for storage. The iron beads are exposed to air inside the reactor, so that they become re-oxidized be used again. The beads can be re-used almost indefinitely, or recycled.
Since the process captures nearly all the carbon dioxide, it exceeds the goals that DOE has set for developing clean energy. New technologies that use fossil fuels should not raise the cost of electricity more than 35 percent, while still capturing more than 90 percent of the resulting carbon dioxide. Based on the current tests with the research-scale plants, Fan and his team believe that they can meet or exceed that requirement.
The DOE funded this research, and collaborating companies include Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group, Inc.; Oxford Resource Partners, Inc.; and Clear Skies Consulting, LLC.