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Emissions Control

Point Source Capture Home | Capture from Power Generation Sources | Capture from Industrial Sources

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Emissions Control Program develops technological improvements and solutions for control of non-CO2 emissions (liquids, gases, and solids) associated with carbon capture, plus management, disposition, and remediation of coal combustion residuals (CCRs) and CCR storage sites. The next-generation concepts and advanced technologies that the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and partners are working on are intended to address the urgent need to safely manage and disposition aging inactive/legacy CCR impoundments, control emissions associated with those impoundments, and control non-CO2 emissions that may occur with more widespread implementation of carbon capture and decarbonization. These technological advancements will help foster environmental justice as they underpin remediation of legacy harms of fossil fuel use, reduction of the volume of CCRs for disposal, and address any pollution issues that might emerge in the large-scale implementation of carbon capture.


Background on CCRs, Impoundments, and Regulations

Although prior research and development (R&D) on coal combustion byproducts was carried out in the 1990s and through 2008 via DOE’s Innovations for Existing Plants Program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule published in 2015 provided new impetus for attention to this issue. Also, the DOE Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management’s (FECM) current mandates, including point source carbon reductions and justice principles, are strongly driving the work under this program:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) Reductions—Reuse of CCRs not only accrues financial revenue for plant operators and CCR marketers, but it yields important environmental benefits as well. For example, for each ton of fly ash used to replace Portland cement in concrete, nearly one ton of CO2 emissions is avoided. 
  • Control of Non-CO2 Emissions in the Decarbonized Economy—DOE/NETL have made a large ongoing investment in advanced technologies for efficient and low-cost point source CO2 capture. As those advanced technologies come online and are applied on a large scale, it will be important to understand and manage any resultant derivative emissions. It is known that conventional solvent-based capture using amine solvents may have complex effects on multiple pollutant species emissions tendencies, and that solvent degradation may result in emissions of species of concern such as ammonia. These kinds of effects demand careful attention in readying technology for capture implementation and capture retrofits.
  • Environmental Justice—Beneficial reuse means less landfill space is needed to dispose of bulky CCR materials.
  • Other Justice—FECM strives to incorporate justice principles with community participation, just distribution of benefits, and emphasis on remediating legacy harms while also mitigating new impacts. Initiatives to increase beneficial use of CCRs and managing CCR impoundments can strongly promote justice by opportunity to site beneficial use facilities in economically struggling communities, and to address environmental liabilities and impacts of legacy ash impoundments near those communities.

Emission Control Program R&D Focus Areas

The Emissions Control Program pursues technology advancements through onsite work at NETL, as well as by external funding opportunities, resulting in a suite of projects performed by industry and academia and overseen by NETL.

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NETL implements this effort as part of DOE’s Carbon Management Program.