Two Department of Energy Awards Will Allow ISGS to Develop New Technologies

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) to develop a technology to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-fired power plants. In the United States, coal-fired power plants emitted about 1,964 million metric tonnes of CO2 in 2005. In the Illinois Basin, 126 power plants emitted about 273 million metric tonnes of CO2 in 2005, of which 98% were contributed by the coal-fired plants. Yongqi Lu, principal investigator and ISGS chemical engineer, will lead the 3-year, $700,000 DOE project. Calgon Carbon Corporation (CCC) has also committed an additional $100,000 for in-kind contributions in support of this project.

The ISGS team of Yongqi Lu and Massoud Rostam-Abadi will collaborate with the CCC and Professor Mark Rood, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, to advance an integrated vacuum carbonate absorption process (IVCAP) for post-combustion CO2 capture. The development of the IVCAP was initiated in 2004 by the ISGS chemical engineers Yongqi Lu, Scott Chen, and Massoud Rostam-Abadi with support from the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC). A U.S. patent application (Application No. 60/798,489, May 2007) describing the process is pending.

Seyed Dastgheib, left, and Yongqi Lu, co-principle investigators on the project.The DOE award will allow the ISGS to advance the IVCAP to an industrial-scale technology for potential pilot-scale or full-scale testing at a utility site after the conclusion of the three-year project. The team has proposed performing an experimental study (1) to test the proof-of-concept of the IVCAP process, (2) to identify an effective catalyst/additive for accelerating the CO2 absorption rate and reducing the stripping heat, (3) to evaluate a modified IVCAP for combined SO2 and CO2 removal, and (4) to analyze the technological and economic performance of the process for industrial applications.

The DOE also selected ISGS to develop technologies to reuse produced water from CO2 enhanced oil recovery, coal-bed methane recovery, and mine pool water by coal-based power plants. The three-year $830,000 DOE award and a $230,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Office of Coal Development and Marketing, will allow the ISGS an opportunity to address the critical water issues facing the energy sector. ISGS chemical engineers Seyed Dastgheib and Yongqi Lu (co-principal investigators) will lead the project. Participants of this project are ISGS staff scientist Massoud Rostam-Abadi, three University of Illinois professors, Mark Shannon (Mechanical Engineering Sciences), Richard Masel (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering), Charles Werth (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium, BPI Energy Inc., and White County Coal, LLC.

Coal power plants are the second largest user of fresh water in the United State. In Illinois, the thermoelectric power sector accounts for about 84% of the estimated 14 billion gallons per day of fresh water withdrawals and one-third of the state's total 1 billion gallons per day of fresh water consumption. Illinois electric power generation capacity is projected to expand 30% by 2030, increasing water consumption by 55 to 160%. The DOE and DCEO awards will be used to evaluate the feasibility of reusing the three types of non-traditional water sources for cooling or process water for coal-based power plants in the Illinois Basin. Tasks will include evaluating the quantity and quality of the produced water, investigating and developing suitable treatment technologies, and conducting detailed economic and benefits analyses. The research will provide critical information for the use of these non-traditional water sources for power plant makeup water, which would allow for increased use of non-traditional waters in the Illinois Basin and nationally.