WASHINGTON, DC -
An advanced, low-polluting coal combustor is rapidly becoming one of
the government's fastest growing clean coal technology success stories.
The U.S. Department of Energy today announced that sales of the "low-NOx
concentric firing system" (LNCFS?), first pioneered in 1992-92 as part
of the federal Clean Coal Technology Program, now top $1 billion. Results
show the system is reducing nitrogen oxides, NOx, by nearly 40 percent
in older coal burning plants. NOx is one of the air pollutants that contributes
to smog, ground-level ozone, and acid rain.
According to data compiled by the Energy Department's National Energy
Technology Laboratory, 56,000 megawatts of electricity are now being generated
in the United States by power plants equipped with the high-tech burner.
"Advances in clean coal technology allow us to use America's abundant
coal reserves more efficiently and, at the same time, protect the quality
of our environment. America's clean coal technology program will be an
important part of the Administration's comprehensive national energy plan,
along with significant investments for clean coal technologies the President
will submit as part of the Administration's budget," said Secretary of
Energy Spencer Abraham.
Coal currently accounts for more than 52 percent of the electricity produced
in the United States. The Bush Administration's budget proposal, outlined
this week by the President, will include support for further clean coal
technology advances as one of the core features of its energy program.
The advanced burner was first installed in 1992 by Alstom Power Inc.,
formerly ABB Combustion Engineering, on Gulf Power Company's Plant Lansing
Smith in Lynn Haven, Florida. The Energy Department paid for 49% of the
project's total $8.6 million cost, which included 19 months of test operations.
The project was carried out jointly with Southern Company Services, the
technology arm of The Southern Company which owns the Lynn Haven power
The project was one of 40 demonstrations of first-of-a-kind technologies
jointly funded by the Energy Department, industry and states in the Clean
Coal Technology Program. The program began in the mid-1980s as a way to
address concerns over acid rain.
The advanced firing system blows air in a circle around a circular coal
flame ? the "circle-within-a-circle arrangement is the reason why the
burner is called "concentric." Most of the coal burns in the inner zone
where the amount of fuel greatly exceeds the available air. In this "fuel-rich"
condition, nitrogen impurities released from the coal and the air have
less of a chance of combining with oxygen to form NOx. As a result, NOx
emissions are reduced by as much as 37% compared to older coal burners.
Emissions can be lowered even more by combining the advanced burner with
another innovation demonstrated in the Clean Coal Technology project.
After the initial burner was tested, engineers installed separate air
nozzles several feet above the main firing zone to create an "overfire
air" zone. The combination of the burner and separate "overfire air" reduces
NOx by an average of 45 percent.
The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments required coal-fired electric utilities
to install pollution control technologies to reduce NOx emissions. Today,
32,500 megawatts of coal-burning capacity in the United States are outfitted
with the LNCFS? burner and another 23,500 megawatts use the combined burner
and separate overfire air system.
Prospects are good that commercial
use of the advanced coal burner will continue to grow. According to the
National Energy Technology Laboratory, there are some 423 power plants
in the country that have boilers suitable for the new technology.