CCS and Power Systems
Crosscutting Research - Plant Optimization Technologies
Single-Crystal Sapphire Optical Fiber Sensor Instrumentation
Performer: Center for Photonics Technology
Project No: FC26-99FT40685
Program Background and Project Benefits
Gasification is used to convert a solid feedstock, such as coal, petcoke, or biomass, into a gaseous form, referred to as synthesis gas or syngas, which is primarily hydrogen and carbon monoxide. With gasification-based technologies, pollutants can be captured and disposed of or converted to useful products. Gasification can generate clean power by adding steam to the syngas in a water-gas-shift reactor to convert the carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide (CO2) and to produce additional hydrogen. The hydrogen and CO2 are separated—the hydrogen is used to make power and the CO2 is sent to storage, converted to useful products or used for EOR. In addition to efficiently producing electric power, a wide range of transportation fuels and chemicals can be produced from the cleaned syngas, thereby providing the flexibility needed to capitalize on the changing economic market. As a result, gasification provides a flexible technology option for using domestically available resources while meeting future environmental emission standards. Polygeneration plants that produce multiple products are uniquely possible with gasification technologies. The Gasification Systems program is developing technologies in three key areas to reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of producing syngas: (1) Feed Systems, (2) Gasifier Optimization and Plant Supporting Systems, and (3) Syngas Processing Systems.
Gasifier Optimization and Plant Supporting System technologies under development are targeted at increasing gasifier availability and efficiency, improving performance, and reducing the capital and operating costs of advanced gasification plants. Ongoing R&D projects are developing more durable refractory materials, creating models to better understand the kinetics and particulate behavior of fuel inside a gasifier, and developing practical solutions to mitigate the plugging and fouling of syngas coolers. Future work will focus on the development of cutting edge gasifier technologies, which will start with multiple competing concepts and continue with support of the most aggressive and successful technologies being developed, both in the Gasification Systems program and other DOE programs, to reduce the cost of coal gasification. Future work will also aim to reduce the amount of water used in gasification plants and integrate technologies throughout the plant and beyond in a holistic approach to increase efficiency and reduce costs (e.g., the optimization of gasification plants to sell CO2 for EOR applications).
The Center for Photonics Technology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is conducting research to design, construct, and test an optically based temperature sensor capable of operating accurately and reliably within the harsh conditions of a coal gasifier. The sensor uses single-crystal sapphires to make optically-based measurements providing real-time monitoring of the high temperatures enabling better control and to increase the reliability and efficiency of gasifier systems including integrated gasification combined cycle.