The National Carbon Capture Center (NCCC) is responding to the call for the development of cost-effective CO2 capture technologies for coal-fired power generation. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, the NCCC provides state-of-the-art facilities to test developers’ technologies for extended periods under commercially representative conditions with coal-derived flue gas and syngas, thereby accelerating development of cost-effective CO2 capture technologies and ensuring continued use of coal for power generation. The test facilities include the original Power Systems Development Facility (PSDF) site, which houses the gasification and pre-combustion CO2 capture processes, and the Post-Combustion Carbon Capture Center (PC4), located at the adjacent Alabama Power E.C. Gaston power plant.
The NCCC includes multiple, adaptable slipstream units that allow technology development using coal-derived syngas and flue gas in industrial settings. Evaluation of developing technologies using coal-derived gas with the concomitant impurities provides critical information on material and process suitability for scale-up to commercial applications. Because of the ability to operate under a wide range of flow rates and process conditions, research at the NCCC can simultaneously evaluate a number of technologies at various levels of maturity.
"In a carbon-constrained future, research and development is the key. To keep electricity costs affordable for customers while continuing to reduce carbon emissions, we must advance the next generation of carbon capture technologies. As an industry leader in R&D, Southern Company has proudly embraced that challenge."
-Kim Greene, Chief Operating Officer, Southern Company
Power Systems Development Facility
DOE conceived the PSDF as the premier advanced coal power generation R&D facility of the world, and work here thus far has fulfilled this expectation. DOE's vision is that: "The Wilsonville PSDF will serve as the proving ground for many new Advanced Power Systems. [It] gives U. S. industry the world's most cost-effective flexible test center for testing tomorrow's coal-based power-generating equipment. Capable of operating at pilot to near-demonstration scales, the facility is large enough to give industry real-life data, yet small enough to be cost-effective and adaptable to a variety of industry needs."
Development of advanced power systems at the PSDF focuses specifically on identifying ways to reduce capital cost, enhance equipment reliability, and increase efficiency while meeting strict environmental standards. The major areas of current testing involve pressurized solids handling systems, coal gasifier optimization using a variety of fuels, and syngas conditioning. The reliable operation of the integrated components allows the PSDF to effectively support additional testing of advanced gas cleanup, including CO2 capture technologies.
The PSDF has continued to support advanced gasification technology development while expanding its scope with the addition of the NCCC to include a variety of technologies aimed at reduced carbon emissions.
What We've Achieved
The PSDF staff has developed several types of first-of-a-kind technologies—including the Transport Gasifier, coal feed systems, and continuous ash removal systems—and significantly improved the performance and availability of existing technologies, such as hot gas filtration and syngas cooling. The PSDF effectively integrated these components into a reliable gasification process for generating data for scale-up to commercial applications.
The PSDF has developed testing and technology transfer relationships with many vendors to ensure that test results and improvements developed at the PSDF are incorporated into future plants. Many outside researchers have utilized processed syngas at the PSDF to test developmental technologies, such as fuel cells and hydrogen separation membranes.
In record time, the Transport Gasification process was selected for commercial deployment through the DOE Clean Coal Power Initiative. The PSDF and DOE’s private/public collaboration efforts have introduced to the commercial marketplace the Transport Integrated Gasification (TRIGTM) process. The first TRIG plant is located at Mississippi Power Company's Kemper County Energy Facility.