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Department of Energy Selects Additional Project to Enable Near-Zero Water Consumption of Power Plants

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) and NETL have selected one additional project to receive approximately $1.5 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development under the second closing of funding opportunity announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0002001.000001, Crosscutting Research for Coal-Fueled Power Plants.

The selection of this project supports the Water Security Grand Challenge, a White House initiated, DOE-led framework to advance transformational technology and innovation to meet the global need for safe, secure, and affordable water. This project directly supports the third goal of this challenge: reducing the freshwater use intensity associated with existing and new thermoelectric power generation.

The project will be supported by FE’s Water Management program, which addresses the needs of the energy-water nexus through analyses and technology development. The project will help ensure that the Nation has a fleet of fossil-fired power plants that provide stable power generation with operational flexibility, high efficiency, low emissions, and even lower water demand.

The technology utilized in this project will minimize operational complexity and cost under cycling operating conditions; thereby enhancing the tolerance of fossil power generation in reduced water availability scenarios (for example, droughts). In particular, the project includes a thermal energy storage unit that will help reduce peak cooling loads to maintain plant output, efficiency, and environmental performance during hot conditions—the most challenging times for cooling.

DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory will manage the project, focused on one FOA area of interest: Coal Power Plant Cooling Technology; Subtopic 2B: Advanced Dry Cooling.

The University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH) will perform the project, titled Advanced Dry-Cooling with Integrated Enhanced Air-Cooled Condenser and Daytime Load-Shifting Thermal Energy Storage for Improved Power-Plant Efficiency. The team will carry out an engineering analysis and optimize the design of a pilot-scale, 10 to 100-megajoule thermal energy storage unit linked to an air-cooled condenser and air-cooled heat exchanger dry-cooling system.

The technology will be field-tested in 1:275-scale dry-cooling modules at the Electric Power Research Institute’s Water Research and Conservation Center at Southern Company’s Plant McDonough in Atlanta, GA. The team will design and optimize the air pre-cooler based on extended analysis and experimental data for a lab/pilot-scale unit. The university also plans to redesign the air-cooled condenser with novel enhanced fin surfaces.

DOE Funding: $1,485,086; Non-DOE Funding: $372,244; Total Value: $1,857,330

The Office of Fossil Energy funds research and development projects to reduce the risk and cost of advanced fossil energy technologies and further the sustainable use of the Nation’s fossil resources. To learn more, visit the Office of Fossil Energy website or sign up for the office’s news announcements. More information about the National Energy Technology Laboratory is available on the lab’s website.