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Carbon Sequestration and Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) Technology- Hot Things on the Horizon!

Posted in Alternative Fuels, Climate Change, Technology

The largest and arguably most revolutionary carbon sequestration project is slated to break ground in Texas this fall and the Pacific Northwest has taken a leadership role in this development. Summit Power Group, Inc. out of Bainbridge, Washington, in conjunction with The Texas Clean Energy Project (TCEP) were awarded a $350 million award in late 2009 from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Coal Power Initiative (CCPI) – Round 3. The TCEP will be the first of its kind integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) and it will be sited in the former oil boomtown of Penwell, Texas, (near Odessa, Texas).

So just what is this project intending to do?

Summit Power teamed up with Siemens (the primary equipment provider) to create a novel engineered solution to providing a significant improvement on the traditional coal fired power plant. Here, the planned 400 MW plant will use coal as a fuel source– but it won’t burn the coal. Rather, the IGCC technology will capture and sequester carbon dioxide (CO2) –at an estimated 90% rate– and create a synthetic gas (syngas) that will be the burning agent, but with significantly less emissions than a traditional coal fired plant. Further, and importantly, the technology allows for the capture of CO2 that can then be used for other commercial purposes. This gasification technology also allows for capture of other pure elements, such as mercury and sulfur.

The gasification process uses “gasification island” technology to break coal into its molecular compounds to create the syngas to fuel the power plant, and, importantly, produce a quantity of CO2that itself is a valuable product if captured. The CO2 capture occurs after the gasification process. Siemens gasifiers are oxygen-blown, operating on 95-99% pure oxygen as the gasification agent.

Many are looking to this project as a template for the future. So stay tuned to see how this project develops and whether it lives up to its “amped up” billing.

A future blog will discuss uses for the captured CO2 (hint: it is no coincidence that the plant is in Texas).