WASHINGTON, DC -
With President Bush citing the promise of new cutting-edge technology
as a way to counter the buildup of greenhouse gases, Energy Secretary
Spencer Abraham announced today that the U.S. Department of Energy will
help co-fund eight new exploratory projects to study ways to capture and
store carbon gases.
The eight projects emerged from a nationwide competition that attracted
62 proposals from private companies, universities, local governments,
and environmental organizations. The winning proposals came from BP, Alstom
Power, Praxair, Consol, Dakota Gasification, Advanced Resources International,
The Nature Conservancy, and Yolo County, California.
Each offers an approach to "carbon sequestration," a promising
class of technologies that remove global warming gases from the exhausts
of power plants or from the atmosphere itself, and securely store them.
"Carbon sequestration is an important option to study because it
offers a way to address the global warming issue without having to make
radical overhauls of our existing energy systems," said Energy Secretary
Spencer Abraham. "This becomes especially significant as we craft
energy and environmental strategies that draw upon all of our available
energy resources, sustain economic growth, and, at the same time, respond
to concerns about the long-term health of our planet."
Last month President Bush cited carbon sequestration as a key part of
his strategy for addressing climate change concerns. "We all believe
technology offers great promise to significantly reduce emissions - especially
carbon capture, storage and sequestration technologies," the President
Projects announced today will study ways to capture the gases and store
them in underground geologic formations or in terrestrial vegetation such
as forests. Most of the projects will focus on carbon dioxide, but one
will collect natural gas from a landfill before it seeps into the air.
The Energy Department's Office of Fossil Energy, which will oversee the
research, has set a goal of developing sequestration approaches that cost
$10 or less per ton of carbon - equivalent to adding only 0.2 cents per
kilowatt-hour to the average cost of electricity. Currently, only a limited
number of sequestration options are available, and most can cost as much
as 30 times more than the department's goal.
Private sector response to the Energy Department's efforts to develop
an expanded menu of environmentally safe and affordable sequestration
options has been overwhelming. Prior to the 62 proposals received in the
recent competition, the Energy Department had evaluated a similar number
of proposals in an earlier round of competition, eventually selecting13
Also, the private sector proposers have offered to fund an average of
40% of total project costs, well above the 20% minimum cost-sharing that
the Energy Department required.
"Government research should be focused on those areas that industry
tells us are worth pursuing," Abraham said. "Clearly, the large
response and significant cost-sharing from the private sector is a clear
message that carbon sequestration is an option worth examining."
The new projects added today were in the following categories and were
Separation and Capture
BP Corporation, Anchorage, Alaska, will head a seven-member
international team to demonstrate the feasibility of capturing carbon
dioxide (CO2) from a variety of fuel types and combustion sources
and storing it in unmineable coal seams and saline aquifers. Proposed
DOE cost: $5.0 million; cost share: $8.8 million.
Alstom Power Inc., Windsor, Connecticut, will test
a way to produce concentrated CO2 by firing oxygen (rather than air)
in an advanced boiler. The company will also evaluate ways to use
the CO2 to produce saleable byproducts, such as enhanced oil recovery.
The first phase would include small scale testing, and if it successful,
a second phase will be a pilot test of the concept. Proposed DOE cost:
$510,000 (Phase I)/$1.4 million (total); participant share: $128,000
(Phase I)/ $350,000 (total).
Praxair, Inc., Tonawanda, New York, will develop
a novel "oxy-fuel" boiler -- a new boiler design that incorporates
a membrane to separate oxygen from the air which is then used for
combustion. Because it produces a concentrated CO2 exhaust, it could
reduce the complexity of CO2 capture, reduce the cost of carbon sequestration,
and offer increased thermal efficiency and reduced pollution. Proposed
DOE cost: $4.1 million; participant share: $1.8 million.
Sequestration in Geological Formations
Consol, Inc., Research & Development, South
Park, Pennsylvania, will demonstrate a coal bed methane production
technology known as "slant-hole" drilling to drain natural
gas from unmineable coal seams, then use the gas production holes
for sequestering CO2. Proposed DOE Share: $6.9 million; participant
share: $1.9 million.
Dakota Gasification Company, Bismarck, North Dakota,
will use new reservoir mapping and predictive tools to develop a better
understanding of the behavior of CO2 in a geologic formation, including
the way it moves through reservoir rocks, the quantity that can be
stored in a reservoir, and how long the CO2 could be expected to remain
trapped in the underground formation. Proposed DOE Share: $4.0 million;
participant share: $22.5 million.
Advanced Resources International, Inc., Arlington,
Virginia, will study the way CO2 is trapped naturally in U.S. deposits
and determine if the knowledge can be adapted for sequestration applications.
Proposed DOE share: $898,000; participant share: $599,000.
- The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Virginia, will
develop and implement various forestry sequestration projects and refine
the tools and methods for measuring their long-term carbon storage potential.
Proposed DOE share: $1.7 million; participant share: $337,000.
- Yolo County, Planning and Public Works Department, California,
will demonstrate full-scale application of a new waste landfill "bioreactor"
approach that was tested at a smaller scale in an earlier DOE project.
Methane emitted from degrading wastes in the landfill will be trapped
by special membranes on the surface and transported to collection points.
Methane is an even more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. Proposed DOE
Share: $553,000; participant share: $1.2 million.