Two international companies recently marked the completion of an important pilot project at the National Carbon Capture Center, located at Alabama Power’s Plant Gaston in Wilsonville. Researchers say it may pave the way for the further advancement of carbon capture during coal-fired power generation.
Global chemical company BASF and The Linde group, a technology company, partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Southern Company and others to test a new process for capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the flue gas, or exhaust gas, of a coal-based generating unit – in this case, the 880-megawatt Unit 5 at Gaston.
“The National Carbon Capture Center, which is managed and operated by Southern Company for the DOE, offers researchers and developers the resources and innovative technology to take their idea out of the controlled lab and test it in real conditions, where anything can happen,” explained Roxann Laird, National Carbon Capture Center director. “For BASF and Linde, this project provided a unique opportunity to test a new carbon capture technology in a power plant setting, and to learn a great deal about the efficacy and efficiency of their process.”
The novel BASF/Linde carbon-capture process and engineering innovations put into test operation at the Wilsonville facility resulted in more than 90 percent carbon capture and more than 99.9 percent CO2 purity. Participants also said the test demonstrated a cost advantage over other technologies.
Last week, officials with BASF and Linde gathered in Birmingham with representatives from Alabama Power and Southern Company, DOE, the Electric Power Research Institute and University of Illinois to celebrate the completion of the project. The group also toured the Wilsonville facility.
“The state-of-the-art pilot plant process and analytical capabilities for carbon capture research made available at the National Carbon Capture Center, and the commitment of its research staff to closely collaborate with technology developers such as BASF and Linde have been critical elements to ensure this project’s success,” said Krish Krishnamurthy, Linde’s principal investigator on the project and head of group R&D – Americas for Linde LLC.
Southern Company and its subsidiaries often work with government, industry and university partners on energy research and development projects. Over the years, the National Carbon Capture Center at Plant Gaston has hosted numerous companies and organizations from around the world that come to the facility to test new energy-related processes and technologies.
For BASF and Linde, the next step will be to pursue larger-scale testing and explore commercial opportunities.