Project No: FE0009448
Performer: Aerojet Rocketdyne


Richard Dennis
Technology Manager (Acting)
Advanced Combustion Systems
National Energy Technology Laboratory
3610 Collins Ferry Road
P.O. Box 880
Morgantown, WV 26507-0880

Robin Ames
Federal Project Manager
National Energy Technology Laboratory
3610 Collins Ferry Road
P.O. Box 880
Morgantown, WV 26507-0880

Mark Fitzsimmons
Principal Investigator
Aerojet Rocketdyne
6633 Canoga Avenue
Canoga Park, CA 91309-7922

Award Date:  10/01/2012
Project Date:  03/31/2017

DOE Share: $12,923,654.00
Performer Share: $7,403,951.00
Total Award Value: $20,327,605.00

Performer website: Aerojet Rocketdyne -

Advanced Energy Systems - Advanced Combustion Systems

Advanced Oxy-Combustion Technology Development and Scale Up for New and Existing Coal-Fired Power Plants

Project Description

This project will evaluate a novel process for pressurized oxy-combustion in a fluidized bed reactor. Pressurized combustion in oxygen and the recycling of carbon dioxide (CO2) gas eliminates the presence of nitrogen and other constituents of air, thus minimizing the generation of pollutants and enabling the economic capture of CO2 gas.

Oxy-PFBC Layout 
Oxy-PFBC Layout

Program Background and Project Benefits

Advanced combustion power generation from fossil fuels involves combustion in a high-oxygen (O2) concentration environment rather than air. This type of system eliminates introduction of most, if not all, of the nitrogen (N2) found in air into the combustion process, generating flue gas composed of CO2, water (H2O), trace contaminants from the fuel, and other gas constituents that infiltrated the combustion system. The high concentration of CO2 (≈60 percent) and absence of nitrogen in the flue gas simplify separation of CO2 from the flue gas for storage or beneficial use. Thus, oxygen-fired combustion is an alternative approach to post-combustion capture for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) for coal-fired systems. However, the appeal of oxygen-fired combustion is tempered by a number of challenges, namely capital cost, energy consumption, and operational challenges associated with supplying O2 to the combustion system, air infiltration into the combustion system that dilutes the flue gas with N2, and excess O2 contained in the concentrated CO2 stream. These factors mean oxygen-fired combustion systems are not cost-effective at their current level of development. Advanced combustion system performance can be improved either by lowering the cost of oxygen supplied to the system or by increasing the overall system efficiency. The Advanced Combustion Systems Program targets both of these possible improvements through sponsored cost-shared research into two key technologies: (1) Oxy-combustion, and (2) Chemical Looping Combustion (CLC).

Oxy-combustion power production involves three major components: oxygen production (air separation unit [ASU]), the oxy-combustion boiler (fuel conversion [combustion] unit), and CO2 purification and compression. These components along with different design options are shown below. Based on the different combinations of these components, oxy-combustion can have several process configurations. These different configurations will have different energetic and economic performance.


Today's oxy-combustion system configuration would use a cryogenic process for O2 separation, atmospheric-pressure combustion for fuel conversion in a conventional supercritical pulverized-coal boiler; substantial flue gas recycle; conventional pollution control technologies for SOx, NOx, mercury, and particulates; and mechanical compression for CO2 pressurization. However, costs associated with currently available oxy-combustion technologies are too high. The Advanced Combustion Systems R&D Program is developing advanced technologies to reduce the costs and energy requirements associated with current systems. R&D efforts are focused on development of pressurized oxy-combustion power generation systems, as well as membrane-based oxygen separation technologies.

Aerojet Rocketdyne is developing an oxygen-fired pressurized fluidized-bed combustor (Oxy-PFBC). The economic advantages of Oxy-PFBC include higher efficiency that reduces fuel consumption and operating cost, higher pressure and efficiency that result in smaller equipment and lower capital cost, and SO2 removal by limestone and minimal NOx formation that reduces emission control equipment costs. In addition, the process can reduce costs for utilization or storage of CO2 because the CO2 is at high pressure, reducing compression requirements. Overall, the Oxy-PFBC technology has the potential to exceed the DOE/NETL objectives of developing advanced oxy-combustion CO2 capture technologies for coal-fired plants capable of 90-percent carbon capture, near-zero air emissions, zero-liquid discharge, and reduced water consumption with capture costs of less than $40/tonne of CO2 captured.

Project Scope and Technology Readiness Level

The project will conduct the testing required to advance the Oxy-PFBC to TRL level 6 and plan a scaled up field demonstration. Component tests will be performed to mitigate risk, select between alternative process parameters, and provide the baseline process for the pilot plant. The design of the pilot plan will be completed. Based on the Alberta Innovates funding decision and alternate funding options a go/no-go decision will be made about whether to proceed with construction of and testing at the pilot facility. Facility fabrication and commissioning will be completed. The recipient will also complete the Demonstration Plant pre- Front End Engineering and Design (pre-FEED) design. Pilot plant testing and analysis to validate the Oxy-Fired PFBC system performance and economics and finalize commercialization planning will be completed.

The Technology Readiness Level (TRL) assessment identifies the current state of readiness of the key technologies being developed under the DOE’s Clean Coal Research Program. This project has not yet been assessed. 

The TRL assessment process and its results including definition and description of the levels may be found in the "2012 Technology Readiness Assessment-Analysis of Active Research Portfolio".


The project was selected for continuation into Phase II. The Aspen model was refined to accurately assess the final configuration with the best cost of electricity based on integrated analysis performed by Aerojet Rocketdyne and Linde. In particular, integration of flue gas low quality heat and compression inter-stage cooling with the boiler feed water stream were of particular importance in improving operational expenditure. Project personnel sought quotes for certain pieces of equipment, and in many cases, the Aspen Capital Cost Analyzer was used to determine appropriate installed costs for the plant in order to complete the economic analysis report. Laboratory studies were conducted at the Pennsylvania State University to address oxygen content and pressurized heat release testing of the sample coal. Sulfation testing and cold flow tests were completed to anchor some of the particle velocity assumptions being used in the kinetics model.