Washington, D.C. —The U.S. Department of Energy has announced the creation of a new National Carbon Capture Center (NCCC) to develop and test technologies to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-based power plants. Managed and operated by Southern Company Services Inc., the center is expected to focus national efforts on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through technological innovation.
Southern Company will establish and manage the NCCC at the Power Systems Development Facility (PSDF) in Wilsonville, Ala. The NCCC will meet a critical need of the Energy Department by serving as a test center for emerging carbon capture technologies. The center will enable testing and analysis at a scale large enough to provide meaningful data under real operating conditions. The project not only promises advancements in technology, but it is expected to create or sustain nearly 170 jobs that will last the duration of the 5-year project.
"The management of CO2 from coal-fired processes is considered by many to be the single most important component required for successful development of advanced coal-fired power systems," said Dr. Victor K. Der, Acting Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy. "The creation of a national research center focused on carbon capture from fossil-fueled power plants bolsters U.S. efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while taking advantage of America’s vast coal resources."
While DOE has been vigorously pursuing carbon capture and storage technologies for many years, the focus on carbon capture is new for the PSDF. Established by DOE with cooperation from Southern Company, the PSDF has established a consistent record of testing, development and scale-up of numerous advanced coal-based power generation technologies, many of which are now entering commercial deployment.
With an existing coal gasifier and combustor already in place, the facility offers a unique opportunity for conducting large-scale research and development for CO2 capture technologies from coal-based power generation. Processes that have been studied at laboratory- or bench-scale under ideal conditions can be quickly deployed to the NCCC for testing and evaluation under conditions that would be expected at a commercial coal-based power plant. Moreover, the center can work with technology developers the world over to harness the innovations needed to create high-performing CO2 capture technologies that can be cost-effectively deployed by power generators.
A major benefit of the NCCC will be its flexibility. The facility will offer multiple slip-stream capabilities for testing candidate processes, with the ability to investigate different ranks of coal, biomass, and other fuels. In addition, multiple projects can be tested in parallel with a wide range of testing equipment. Long-term testing will also be available to establish the durability and reliability of new technologies.
Technology development at the NCCC will include both pre- and post-combustion CO2 capture. The pre-combustion CO2 capture component will be located at the PSDF, and the post-combustion component will be developed at Plant Gaston, an Alabama Power coal-fueled generating plant adjacent to the PSDF.
In addition to DOE and Southern Company, current participants in the NCCC project include American Electric Power, Luminant, the Electric Power Research Institute, Arch Coal, Peabody Energy, and RioTinto. The center anticipates adding more partners as its work progresses.