National Carbon Capture Center commissions new test center for evaluating carbon capture

Post-Combustion Carbon Capture Center (PC4) at the National Carbon Capture Center

Post-Combustion Carbon Capture Center (PC4) at the National Carbon Capture Center

Researchers at the National Carbon Capture Center have successfully commissioned a new test center for evaluating improved technologies for capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal‐based power plant flue gas.

The new center, the Post‐Combustion Carbon Capture Center (PC4), is a part of the larger National Carbon Capture Center – a national testing and evaluation center established by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and operated and managed by Southern Company. Located in Wilsonville, Alabama, the center works collaboratively with third‐party technology developers to test and improve their emerging CO2 capture technologies.

The highly flexible PC4 test center was established to test CO2 capture under a wide range of operating conditions using flue gas from an actual pulverized coal power plant.

During initial testing at PC4, which began in March, a Pilot Solvent Test Unit was successfully operated on flue gas from a large coal‐fired power plant using a CO2 capture solvent called monoethanolamine (MEA), a baseline reference solvent.

Researchers are determining baseline CO2 capture performance of the new test center in anticipation of future tests. So far, CO2 capture efficiency of the pilot solvent test unit consistently exceeded the expected 90 percent CO2 capture for which the post-combustion unit was designed and is now in steady operations capturing about 10 tons per day of CO2, with a total of about 420 tons captured to date.

Other CO2 capture solvents from technology developers worldwide will be tested at the PC4 and compared with the MEA baseline data. To date, the National Carbon Capture Center has entered into testing agreements with Aker Clean Carbon AS (ACC) and Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group Inc. (B&W PGG), a subsidiary of The Babcock & Wilcox Company (B&W), for evaluation of advanced CO2 capture processes at PC4. Both companies plan to conduct testing of their respective technologies later this year.

ACC of Norway has 18 years of experience in the CO2 capture field in Europe. The company plans to test a process for capturing CO2 from power plant flue gas that will utilize advanced amine solvents.Process advancements developed by ACC are expected to both reduce cost and improve environmental performance over conventional technology.

B&W will also conduct research at the center to further develop commercially viable methods of reducing CO2 emissions from coal‐fired power plants. The company will test its Regenerable Solvent Absorption Technology (RSATTM) process and OptiCapTM advanced solvent.

“These projects with ACC and B&W address one of our main priorities – working with third party technology developers to evaluate emerging CO2 capture technologies in a setting big enough to serve as a bridge from the laboratory to commercial demonstration,” said Kerry Bowers, National Carbon Capture Center director.

The center also includes pre‐combustion CO2 capture facilities, which have been in operation since 2009. Discussions continue with numerous other prospective technology suppliers who are interested in testing their CO2 capture processes at the center.