The first pilot project that uses chilled ammonia to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-fueled power plants is online. The joint project is the result of a collaborative effort between Alstom, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Milwaukee, Wis.-based We Energies.
Alstom designed, constructed and will operate the 1.7 MW system that captures CO2 from a portion of coal-fired boiler flue gas at We Energies’ Pleasant Prairie Power Plant, a 1,210 MW coal-fired generating station in southeastern Wisconsin. Alstom’s process uses chilled ammonia to capture CO2 and isolates it in a highly concentrated, high-pressure form. In laboratory testing, it has demonstrated the potential to capture more than 90 percent of CO2 at a cost that is far less than other carbon capture technologies. Once captured, the CO2 can be used commercially or sequestered in suitable underground geologic sites.
“This pilot is a significant milestone in our ongoing partnership with We Energies and EPRI,” said Jean-Michel Aubertin, senior vice president of Alstom’s Energy and Environment Systems Group, which has its U.S. headquarters in Windsor, Conn. “We Energies’ operational expertise and EPRI’s financial and research collaboration support are perfect complements to Alstom’s leadership in CO2 capture research and development. This plant will provide invaluable information in leading to commercialization of CO2 capture technology.”
The demonstration project will provide the opportunity to test the process on a larger scale and to evaluate its potential to remove CO2 while reducing the energy used in the process.
Gale Klappa, chairman, president and CEO of Wisconsin Energy, the parent company of We Energies, called the pilot project a “critical step” in the research and development of this process. “Developing cost-effective carbon capture technology is one of the most important environmental challenges facing the utility industry in the 21st century,” said Klappa, “and it’s important that we take steps now to achieve a long-term technology solution.”
EPRI will conduct an engineering and environmental performance and cost analysis during the project, which will last at least one year. Through EPRI’s collaborative research and development program, more than 30 organizations representing a large portion of the coal-fueled utilities in the United States have committed to support this project.