WASHINGTON, DC — The Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy has announced the selection of 26 university research projects that will investigate technologies to improve the efficient and environmentally responsible use of fossil energy for producing electricity, fuels, chemicals, and other high-value products.
The Energy Department will allocate almost $3 million for the University Coal Research Program?DOE's longest-running student-teacher research grant initiative?for coal-related research at 23 universities in 18 states. Since its inception in 1979, more than 1,700 students have worked alongside their professors in over 700 federally funded research projects to investigate methods for clean and efficient use of our nation's abundant coal resources.
Selected projects fall under three project areas: the Core Program provides funds for projects that complement ongoing applied research in DOE's Fossil Energy program; the Innovative Concepts Phase I Program targets unique ideas that might lead to future breakthroughs; and the Innovative Concepts Phase II Program provides funds for projects that augment research previously supported with Phase I funding.
Mercury and Other Trace Metals within Coal-Fired Processes
Understanding mercury chemistry is necessary to develop mercury-removal processes for advanced power systems. Research conducted under this topic will investigate partitioning and chemistry of mercury, other trace metals, and organic substances in coal-fired systems.
Water Usage in Future Power Generation Systems
- The University of Dayton will investigate how fly ash and flue gas composition affects mercury under the full range of post-combustion conditions. (DOE award: $199,673; cost share: $5,000; project duration: 36 months)
- The University of Utah will attempt to understand the fundamental chemistry of bromine and mercury that leads to the formation of mercury bromide. (DOE award: $199,935; project duration: 36 months)
The water used for cooling power plants can cause thermal pollution and other environmental impacts. This project aims to reduce the amount of freshwater used for coal-fired power generation.
Materials for Advanced Coal-Based Energy Systems
- Texas A&M University will evaluate the ability of adsorbents and reactants to remove arsenic, selenium, and mercury from wastewater so it can be used for plant cooling. (DOE award: $199,987; project duration: 36 months)
New materials are required to improve the performance and reduce the costs of existing power systems. They are also needed to develop new systems for coal combustion and gasification, gas separation, hydrogen storage, high-temperature fuel cells, and advanced turbine systems.
Hydrogen Storage Materials
- Texas A&M University will develop a computational methodology to aid in the design of a wide variety of high-temperature materials. (DOE award: $199,866; project duration: 36 months)
- The University of Tennessee will work collaboratively with Northwestern University and the University of California to develop a new class of ?superalloy? steels for use in advanced coal-based energy systems. (DOE award: $399,794; cost share: $269,399; project duration: 36 months)
- Tennessee Technological University proposes to overcome the oxidation problems of key components in ultrasupercritical boilers by developing a low-cost alumina-forming coating. (DOE award: $200,000; cost share: $54,446; project duration: 36 months)
Development of hydrogen storage materials is necessary for the eventual implementation of a hydrogen economy. This project will aid in developing materials that provide high hydrogen-storage density and stability at commercially relevant conditions.
Advancements in Assessment of Geological Reservoirs for CO2 Sequestration
- The Pennsylvania State University will employ a combination of analytical techniques to enhance the understanding of materials suitable for hydrogen storage. (DOE award: $200,000; cost share: $34,006; project duration: 36 months)
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the major anthropogenic greenhouse gas and a critical component in models of global climate change. The selected projects will improve our understanding of the physical and chemical processes involved in geologic storage of CO2.
Syngas and Hydrogen Combustion Reduced Order Reactions and Rate Constants
- Mississippi State University will determine the extent to which microorganisms isolated from oil-bearing formations can convert CO2 into methane or cellular components. (DOE award: $200,000; project duration: 36 months)
- The University of Houston , along with the University of Kansas and Continental Resources of Illinois, will develop an innovative seismic technology to assess geologic reservoirs for CO2 sequestration. (DOE award: $400,000; cost share: $133,333; project duration: 36 months)
The projects selected under this topic will provide experimentally validated data and numerical models to design syngas and hydrogen fuel combustors.
Characterization of Atomic and Electronic Structure of Electrochemically Active Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Cathode Surfaces
- Case Western Reserve University , in conjunction with the University of Southern California and the University of Michigan, will use experiments and numerical modeling to develop tools to aid in designing future synthesis-gas and hydrogen-fueled combustion turbines. (DOE award: $400,000; project duration: 36 months)
- Princeton University will investigate how laminar and turbulent flame speeds and flammability limits affect mixtures of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, air, and water at elevated pressures and temperatures. (DOE award: $200,000; project duration: 36 months)
Solid oxide fuel cells provide a high level of fuel flexibility and are the cleanest, most efficient chemical-to-electrical energy conversion systems. Studies examining the relationship between atomic structure and electron states at the cathode surface are needed to improve solid oxide fuel cell systems.
Advanced Gasification Research Studies
- Georgia Tech University will use advanced calculations to understand the detailed mechanism for oxygen reduction at the cathode surfaces of solid oxide fuel cells. (DOE award: $200,000; cost share: $51,000; project duration: 36 months)
Future power generation systems based on coal gasification will require an enhanced understanding of the performance of transport reactors. The projects selected under this topic will provide experimental data on transport properties and enhance modeling capabilities.
- The Illinois Institute of Technology will improve the correlations that describe mass transport and dispersion of both solids and gases in circulating fluidized beds and transport reactors. (DOE award: $199,998; cost share: $18,684; project duration: 36 months)
- Princeton University will develop more accurate and affordable large-scale simulations of transport gasifiers and other reacting and non-reacting gas-particle flows in a variety of chemical reactors. (DOE award: $200,000; cost share: $99,756; project duration: 36 months)
INNOVATIVE CONCEPTS PHASE I PROGRAM
Analysis to Quantify the Contribution of Coal-fired Boiler Emissions to Ambient Fine Particle Concentrations
Studies have shown consistent associations between elevated concentrations of fine particles in the air and adverse health effects, but research is needed to clarify the links between coal-fired utility boiler emissions, ambient particulate concentrations and composition, and specific health endpoints.
Advanced NOx Control
- The University of Maryland College Park will develop a method to quantify the mass contribution of individual coal-fired utility boiler emissions to ambient fine particle concentrations. (DOE award: $49,999; cost share: $12,500; project duration: 12 months)
Most coal-fired utilities use selective catalytic reduction to achieve compliance with new, more stringent NOx control regulations; however, this technology is expensive and has generated plumes of sulfur trioxide. Less-expensive technologies, with fewer negative balance-of-plant issues, are needed for the existing fleet of coal-fired power plants.
Computational Chemistry in Support of Hydrogen from Coal
- The University of Iowa will evaluate the reactivity of a type of ?tailored? catalyst for the selective catalytic reduction of NOx with ammonia. (DOE award: $50,000; cost share: $9,000; project duration: 12 months)
Computational chemistry has the potential to uncover new reaction mechanisms and unique interactions between materials and species of interest. The selected project will employ computational chemistry to develop chemical catalysts for the production of hydrogen from coal.
Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Sealing Materials and Systems
- University of Wisconsin will identify bimetallic catalysts to produce hydrogen from gasified coal via a chemical reaction called the ?water gas shift? reaction. (DOE award: $50,000; cost share: $9,245; project duration: 12 months)
Power generation systems employing solid oxide fuel cells are being developed for use in future coal-fired power plants. Novel sealing materials and systems are needed to address the needs of these fuel cells.
Separation and Handling of Nano-sized Particles
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University will develop a novel seal concept to achieve long-term seal durability under solid oxide fuel cell operating conditions. (DOE award: $50,000; project duration: 36 months)
Sub-micron-sized structured materials are becoming more important in the areas of catalysis and materials for energy systems. New, low-cost methods are desired for separating these materials into specific, narrow ranges of sizes so that the properties of the materials can be better studied and utilized.
Development of Robust Sensor Networks for Intelligent Control of Advanced Coal Combustion Systems
- Auburn University will use a novel, inexpensive process to rapidly and efficiently separate mixtures of metal nanoparticles into fractions by particle size. (DOE award: $50,000; cost share: $22,462; project duration: 12 months)
- Clarkson University will design aerodynamic lenses for generating focused, narrow beams to separate nanoparticles by size. (DOE award: $50,000; cost share: $10,080; project duration: 12 months)
Development of control systems is critical to the operation and integration of advanced power generation technologies. These systems reduce the cost of new installations and improve efficiency and environmental performance.
- Clarkson University will develop advanced wireless controls applicable to the cogeneration of electric power and synthetic fuel. (DOE award: $50,000; cost share: $10,080; project duration: 12 months)
- University of Connecticut will examine the feasibility of optical sensors that use exposed fiber probes placed directly in harsh environments. (DOE award: $50,000; project duration: 12 months)
- The University of Tulsa will develop innovative optical sensor networks that couple infrared and ultraviolet spectroscopy. (DOE award: $49,962; cost share: $29,201; project duration: 12 months)
INNOVATIVE CONCEPTS PHASE II PROGRAM
The projects chosen under the Innovative Concepts Phase II Program were supported in Phase I and have shown sufficient promise to be selected for additional research.
- Southern Illinois University will develop and test value-added products from sulfite-rich scrubber materials. (DOE award: $199,999; cost share: $259,540; project duration: 36 months)
- The University of Cincinnati will develop an advanced reactor for the simultaneous removal of NOx and mercury from coal-fired flue gases. (DOE award: $200,000; project duration: 36 months)
- The University of Southern California will team with Media & Process Technology Inc. and the Gas Company of Southern California to study special clay sorbents to reduce the amount of water used by utilities during electricity generation. (DOE award: $199,999; cost share: $35,404; project duration: 36 months)