The U.S. Department of Energy today added more of the technological
"building blocks" to its Vision 21 program - an effort
the agency expects to lead to a nearly pollution-free energy plant by
the next decade.
It's not your father's power plant.
The Vision 21 pollution-free energy plant may look significantly
different than a traditional power plant - as this artist's
"We are building the foundation for a new generation of energy facilities
capable of efficiently using our most abundant traditional fuels while
virtually eliminating environmental concerns," said Secretary of
Energy Bill Richardson. "Vision 21 represents the future
of clean energy, and these projects will help us get there faster."
Richardson announced the selection of seven new projects. Each will add
a key engineering or computational component to the portfolio of technologies
the department ultimately expects will converge into the Vision 21
concept. The projects join six others chosen last March (see Fossil
Energy Techline, March 7, 2000).
Vision 21 is a new approach to energy production. The futuristic
concept envisions a suite of highly-advanced technology modules that can
be customized to meet different energy markets.
Vision 21 plants could process a wide range of fuels - coal,
natural gas, biomass, municipal waste or perhaps mixtures of these fuels
- and generate multiple energy products, such as electricity, fuels and
chemicals. The "multi-fuel, multi-product" capability is a significant
departure from today's energy plants that typically use a single fuel
and produce a single product.
Also, by incorporating the latest technological improvements, the department
hopes to make Vision 21 plants nearly emission free. Wastes would
be either recycled or turned into products such as fertilizer or commercial
Four of the new projects will focus on technologies crucial to the Vision
21 technical basis:
Alloys, Huntington, WV, will develop stronger, heat-
and corrosion-resistant alloys for Vision 21 heat exchangers.
Durable, high-performance heat exchangers will be necessary to boost
fuel-to-energy conversion efficiencies and reduce maintenance requirements
and costs of Vision 21 plants. Proposed DOE award: $2.38
million; private sector cost-share: approx. $600,000.
Development Corp., Livingston, NJ, will design and test
a key module that will be capable of fully gasifying some fuels or
operating as a partial gasifier to produce a char for advanced combustion
processes. This capability will give engineers the flexibility to
tailor a Vision 21 plant to process a wide variety of different
fuels. Proposed DOE award: $2.29 million; private cost share: approx.
ITN Energy Systems,
Wheat Ridge, CO, will develop a novel ceramic membrane to separate
hydrogen from fossil fuel gas streams. Hydrogen can be used as the
energy source for a fuel cell, or in gas turbines, or to upgrade the
quality of liquid fuels and chemicals. Proposed DOE award: $2.33 million;
private cost share: approx. $585,000.
GE Energy and Environmental
Research Corp., Irvine, CA, will develop an advanced
gasification-combustion concept that simultaneously produces separate
streams of (1) fuel-grade hydrogen, (2) concentrated carbon dioxide
that would be ready for disposal, and (3) high-temperature, high-pressure
oxygen-depleted air to generate electricity in a gas turbine. Proposed
DOE award: $2.5 million; private cost share: approx. $880,000.
The other three projects will focus on advanced plant design and visualization
International, Salt Lake City, UT, will develop a computational
"virtual workbench" that can be used by a non-specialist
to simulate the performance of Vision 21 energy plant boilers, advanced
combustors, gasifiers, and fuel cells. Proposed DOE award: $1.49 million;
private cost share: approx. $375,000.
CFD Research Corporation,
Hunstsville, AL, will develop an advanced computational tool to design
low emission combustion systems for gas turbines. Using a computer
to simulate the fluctuations that often occur when gaseous fuels are
combusted can lessen the need for expensive experimental tests and
lead to innovative concepts for reducing emissions. Proposed DOE award:
$1.49 million; private cost share: approx. $860,000.
Princeton, NJ, will develop computer simulation software that can
model the pneumatic flow of microscopic solid particles and predict
the interactions - such as friction - that can occur between them.
The computational tools will give engineers the capability to simulate
the transport of coal particles and model their behavior in advanced
fluidized bed combustors. Proposed DOE award: $430,117, private cost
share: approx. $115,000.
The Energy Department plans to select another round of proposals in the
next eight months to complete the initial set of Vision 21 projects.
Developers have until the end of September to submit proposals.
Area of Interest - Enabling and Supporting Technologies
- Development of ODS Heat Exchanger Tubing, Huntington
Alloys, Huntington, WV, with Foster Wheeler Development Corp., Livingston,
NJ; Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN; University of California
at San Diego, San Diego, CA; Michigan Technological University; Houghton,
MI; and the Edison Welding Institute, Columbus, OH
Technical Contact: Mark A. Harper, Huntington Alloys
Huntington Alloys proposes developing heat exchanger tubing made of oxide
dispersion strengthened alloys (ODS) with enough circumferential creep
strength - lacking in commercial ODS tubing - for long term use as heat
exchanger tubing in very high temperatures. The proposers also plan to
produce adequate connecting joints for the tubing, establish bending strain
limits, establish high temperature corrosion limits and generate data
for heat exchanger designers to use. This novel and extensive program
will consist of a team effort between one material-producing company,
one boiler manufacturing company, one national laboratory, two universities,
and one non-profit welding research organization. The successful outcome
of this project will result in innovative developments that allow the
reliable use of ODS alloys for heat exchanger tubing, as well as a variety
of applications previously not possible with metallic materials.
- Development of Pressurized Circulating Fluidized Bed Partial
Gasification Module, Foster Wheeler Development Corporation, Livingston,
NJ, with Nexant, San Francisco, CA; Praxair, Danbury, CT; Reaction Engineering
International, Salt Lake City, UT; Corning, Elmira, NY; and ADA Technology,
Technical Contact: Archie Robertson, Foster Wheeler
Development Corp. (973) 535-2328
Foster Wheeler proposes developing a pressurized circulating fluidized
bed partial gasification module (PGM). The proposers advocate using
the partial gasification module because it offers all the advantages
of gasifying fossil fuels, while providing significant fuel flexibility
and the ability to accommodate the most advanced steam turbines and
gas turbines. Its performance in achieving overall efficiency goals
will not be affected by the carbon conversion achieved in the PGM.
For certain fuels (e.g., biomass and other low-rank fuels), PGM will
simply operate as a full gasifier; whereas for other fuels, the char
generated in the PGM will be combusted in high efficiency advanced
combustion modules. PGM-based Vision 21 plants would be able to generate
electric power from coal at thermal efficiencies over 60% and meet
all the stringent environmental requirements. Such a plant could be
used to co-produce liquid fuels or chemical byproducts, or it could
also use oxygen-firing to render the plant suitable for easy CO2
- Novel Composite Membranes for Hydrogen Separation in Gasification
Processes in Vision 21 Energy Plants, ITN Energy Systems, Inc.,
Wheat Ridge, CO, with Idaho National Engineering Environmental Laboratory,
Idaho Falls, ID; Nexant, San Francisco, CA; Argonne National Laboratory,
Argonne, IL; and Praxair, Inc., Danbury, CT
Technical Contact: Michael Schwartz, ITN Energy
Systems, Inc. (303) 285-5118
ITN Energy Systems proposes a novel approach to hydrogen separation
membrane technology where fundamental engineering material development
is fully integrated into fabrication designs, combining functionally
graded materials, monolithic module concept and plasma spray manufacturing
techniques. The technology is based on the use of Ion Conducting Ceramic
Membranes (ICCM) for the selective transport of hydrogen. The membranes
will be consist of composites of a proton conducting ceramic and a
second metallic phase to promote electrical conductivity. The program
will develop and evaluate composite membranes and catalysts for hydrogen
separation. Components of the monolithic modules will be fabricated
by plasma spray processing. The ICCM hydrogen separation technology
is targeted for use within the gasification module of the Vision
21 fossil fuel plant. The proposed technology also results in
a stream of pure carbon dioxide. This allows for easy sequestration
or other use of this greenhouse gas.
- Fuel-Flexible Gasification-Combustion Technology for Production
of Hydrogen and Sequestration-Ready CO2, GE Energy and
Environmental Research Corp., Irvine, CA. (The proposer requested the
names of team members remain withheld as proprietary information.)
Technical Contact: R. George Rizeq, GE Energy and
Environmental Research Corp. (949) 859-8851
GE-Energy and Environmental Research has developed an innovative
fuel-flexible advanced gasification-combustion (AGC) concept to produce
hydrogen for fuel cells or combustion turbines, and a separate stream
of sequestration-ready CO2. In the AGC technology, coal/opportunity
fuels and air are simultaneously converted into separate streams of
(1) pure hydrogen to be utilized in fuel cells, (2) sequestration-ready
CO2, and (3) high temperature/pressure oxygen depleted
air (i.e., nearly pure nitrogen) to produce electricity in a gas turbine.
The process produces near-zero emissions and has a theoretical thermal
efficiency up to 93% based on the heating value of the fuel. The proposed
research and development program will determine the operating conditions
that maximize the separation of CO2 and pollutants from
the vent gas, while simultaneously maximizing coal conversion efficiency
and hydrogen production. The economic viability and market potential
for commercialization of the process will be evaluated. The proposed
three-year program integrates lab-, bench- and pilot-scale studies.
Area of Interest - Advanced Plant Design
and Visualization Software
- A Computational Workbench Environment for Virtual Power
Plant Simulation, Reaction Engineering International, Salt Lake
City, UT, with Visual Influence, Sandy, UT; RECOM, Magstad, Germany;
Foster Wheeler Development Corp., Livingston, NJ; Massachusetts Institute
of Technology, Cambridge, MA; and Iowa State University, Ames, IA
Technical Contact: Michael J. Bockelie (801) 364-6925,
Reaction Engineering International proposed to develop and demonstrate
a computational workbench for simulating the performance and emissions
of a Vision 21 power plant. The workbench will be constructed
as a tightly integrated problem solving environment that contains
an array of tools and models that communicate in a seamless manner.
It will be designed for the non-specialist and will include models
ranging in complexity from heat/mass/energy balance Reactor models
to detailed Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) based models. The project
team will develop models for transient and steady state simulations
of key energy plant components, including boilers, fluidized beds,
gasifiers, combustors, fuel cells and clean-up process components.
The proposed three year program contains three major technical tasks:
Produce a prototype workbench capable
of simulating the LEBS Proof of Concept boiler system.
Assemble and validate component models
for a Vision 21 power plant; and
Further improve the prototype workbench
by simulating two representative DOE-approved Vision 21
power plant systems.
- LES Software for the Design of Low Emission Combustion
Systems for Vision 21 Plants, CFD Research Corp., Huntsville, AL
with three universities: UC-Berkeley, Berkeley, CA; Georgia Institute
of Technology, Atlanta, GA; State University of New York (SUNY)-Buffalo,
Buffalo, NY; and an industrial consortium consisting of Siemens Westinghouse,
Orlando, FL; Pratt & Whitney, East Hartford, CT; GE, Irving, CA;
Solar Turbine, San Diego, CA; Allied Signal, Phoenix, AZ; Coen Co.,
Burlingame, CA; MTI Technologies, Anaheim, CA; and Vapor Power Group,
Technical Contact: Clifford E. Smith, CFD Research
Corp. (256) 726-4813
The proposers of this project will develop an advanced computational
software tool to design low emission combustion systems. The proposed
simulation tool will greatly reduce the number of experimental tests;
this is especially desirable for gas turbine combustor design since
high pressure testing is extremely costly. In addition, the Large
Eddy Simulation software will provide the capability of assessing
and adapting low-emission combustors to alternate fuels, and will
greatly reduce the development time cycle of combustion systems. This
revolutionary combustion simulation software will be able to accurately
simulate the highly transient nature of gaseous-fueled (e.g. natural
gas, low BTU syngas, hydrogen, biogas etc.) turbulent combustion and
assess innovative concepts needed for Vision 21 plants.
- Coarse-grid Simulation of Reacting and Non-reacting Gas-Particle
Flows, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Technical Contact: Sankaran Sundaresan, Princeton
University (609) 258-4583
Many processes involved in coal utilization involve handling of fine
particles, their pneumatic transport, and their reactions in fluidized
beds, spouted beds and circulating fluidized beds. One of the factors
limiting our ability to simulate these processes is the hydrodynamics
encountered in them. Two major issues that contribute to this limitation
are lack of good and computationally expedient models for frictional
interaction between particles, and models to capture the consequences
of meso-scale structures that are ubiquitous in gas-solid flows. Princeton
University's proposal describes a combination of computer simulations
and experiments to develop and validate these models. The proposers
also plan to implement and validate these models using MFIX, which
is a virtual demonstration tool developed at DOE's National Energy
Technology Laboratory (NETL). Once the project is completed, MFIX
can be used to perform coarse-grid simulation of reactive flows in
processes involving fluidized beds, spouted beds and circulating fluidized
beds, and a variety of other non-reactive flow problems.