Advanced Combustion Research Awarded to Improve Carbon Capture

artists rendering of carbon dioxide molecules suspended in air

A new research project at the Prairie Research Institute will develop advanced combustion systems to improve the collection and storage of carbon dioxide captured from flue gases of electric power plants and other industrial combustion processes.

Researchers at the Illinois State Geology Survey (ISGS) were awarded approximately $1.5 million by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop advanced methods for purifying captured carbon dioxide (CO2), by removing residual oxygen as well as toxic nitric oxides, sulfur oxides, and mercury.

The three-year project will develop and test catalytic approaches through the development of novel materials and dedicated systems to address the problem.

DOE’s research and development to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at power plants is focused on four main areas: 1) pre-combustion, 2) post-combustion, 3) advanced combustion, and 4) advanced compression. The goal of the advanced combustion area is to capture at least 90 percent of CO2 from flue gas, without the need for expensive CO2 separation systems for post-combustion capture.

The new award involves advancing the development of pressurized oxy-combustion systems, in which coal is combusted with pure oxygen rather than air, according to Yongqi Lu, ISGS research engineer and principal investigator on the project. This next generation approach could produce a purified stream of CO2 that meets DOE requirements for its use in enhanced oil recovery. Impurities in the stream also may affect the integrity of captured carbon dioxide during transportation and storage.

PRI researchers are leaders in research and development on a number of DOE’s initiatives to benefit fossil fuel power generation.

Partners on the latest PRI research project are Washington University in St. Louis and the engineering/consulting firm AECOM.