Enabling Technologies/Innovative Concepts
Enabling Technologies / Innovative Concepts:
R&D supporting the evaluation and development of advanced concepts and innovative new options for oxy-fuel combustion, as well as enabling technologies for oxy-combustion and chemical looping combustion.

Enabling Technologies/Innovative Concepts R&D is supporting the evaluation and development of advanced concepts which could provide innovative new options for oxy-fuel combustion, as well as enabling technologies for the two central technology pathways – oxy-combustion and chemical looping combustion – that have the potential to drive down their cost of electricity. Activities range from scoping studies and systems analysis to focused R&D. The research focus currently includes enabling oxy-fuel combustion systems, high-efficiency supercritical CO2 (SCO2) power cycles, and pressure gain combustion.

Enabling oxy-fuel combustion systems projects support the scale-up of full-system oxy-combustion and chemical looping combustion technologies under development. The focus of R&D is to address critical technology gaps and improve overall system performance by decreasing unit operation energy requirements. To achieve these objectives, projects consist of applied R&D focusing on relatively mature technologies that can enable the near-term scale-up and set the stage for Transformational benefits. These projects will reduce technical risk, improve performance, and reduce cost to assist the technologies supported by the ACS program – in pressurized oxy-combustion and chemical looping combustion – to meet the Program goals. ACS currently supports R&D of relatively mature technologies, including: in-bed SCO2 heat exchanger and staged coal combustion; isothermal deoxidation reactor (IDR) for CO2 purification; latent heat recovery; characterization and modeling of high-pressure and -temperature oxy-coal combustion; and integrated pollutant removal (IPR).

High-Strength Thin-Wall Heat Exchanger Construction — Up to 40 fin/cm
High-Strength Thin-Wall Heat Exchanger Construction — Up to 40 fin/cm

Integration of SCO2 power cycles has the potential to further improve efficiency and COE of chemical looping combustion and pressurized oxy-combustion systems. Currently targeted concepts include the integration of oxy-fuel combustion with a SCO2 power cycle. The SCO2 power cycle operates in a manner similar to other power cycles, but uses CO2 as the working fluid in the turbo-machinery rather than steam, and offers the potential for significant improvements in the efficiency and capital costs associated with oxy-fuel power generation. R&D is needed to design heat extraction components in oxy-fuel combustion units optimized to the SCO2 power cycle, as well as recuperative heat exchangers, which will help to increase the cycle efficiency.

Rotating detonation engine test fire.
Rotating detonation engine test fire.
(click to enlarge)

Pressure gain combustion (PGC) has the potential to significantly improve combined cycle performance when integrated with combustion gas turbines by realizing a pressure increase versus a pressure loss through the combustor of the turbine. The methodology resulting in a pressure-gain across the combustor relies on the Humphrey (or Atkinson) cycle, and is seen to have great potential as a means of achieving higher efficiency in gas turbine power systems, potentially reaching 4-6% for simple cycle systems and 2-4% in combined cycle systems. Rotating Detonation Combustion capitalizes on this cycle and offers potential as a drop in replacement for conventional gas turbine combustors. ACS currently supports on-going R&D focused on development of rotating detonation engines (RDE), understanding how non-idealities in RDEs affect operability and efficiency, improving modeling tools to predict the performance of pressure gain combustors, attain further basic understanding of detonation-inhomogeneity interaction, and aid in improving combustor performance.

Currently, NETL supports several Enabling Technologies/Innovative Concepts projects in collaboration with industry, academia, and NETL’s Research & Innovation Center.