Technologies Research and Development
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) Program has a history of success in gasification technology development and demonstration. The research and development (R&D) portfolio of today’s program will enable the deployment of clean, affordable energy systems that use our Nation’s abundant domestic feedstocks to meet the growing energy needs of a vibrant economy.
High petroleum prices, natural gas price volatility, increasing worldwide energy demand, in combination with concern over the potential effect of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel power plants on the global climate, are influencing decision makers to consider gasification-based energy systems. Gasification technology is the baseline technology to meet the demand for the clean production of electricity, fuels and chemicals.
Gasification vs. Combustion – The configuration of the fuel conversion and power generation for gasification systems is fundamentally different from other technologies, such as pulverized coal (PC) combustion. In PC plants, the carbonaceous fuel is converted (combusted) using a single step in a boiler. The thermal energy generates steam, which is transferred to the power block through a steam turbine to produce electricity. Included in the power block are the pollution control technologies to remove sulfur, particulate, and nitrogen oxides (NOX), among others. In a gasification plant, the feedstock is converted (gasified) in order to produce a clean synthesis gas (syngas) (primary hydrogen [H2] and carbon monoxide [CO]) via reaction with steam and oxygen at high temperature and pressure in a reducing (oxygen-starved) environment. The clean syngas could be used to produce hydrogen, fuels, and chemicals. For power generation, syngas is combusted in a gas turbine to produce power. The hot exhaust gas from the gas turbine is fed to a steam generator to produce additional power via a steam turbine – hence, a combined cycle power generation. Combined cycle power generation is inherently more efficient than a single cycle configuration, resulting in lower emissions per unit of electricity generation.
While gasification systems are not new, most applications have focused on single products, generally electric power or chemicals. For a new generation of gasification systems, the Advanced IGCC Program strategy focuses on enhancing the flexibility of gasification to meet the economic and environmental challenges in new and growing markets. Achieving a combination of improvements in process efficiency, economics, and environmental performance could enable gasification to be the preferred technology for a wide range of markets.
The Advanced IGCC Program is designed to develop new, innovative technologies that can generate electricity from coal with near-zero emissions and a minimal increase in cost to the consumers. These advanced gasification-based technologies are being developed to reduce the capital and operating and maintenance (O&M) costs of coal-based IGCC plants, to improve their thermal efficiency, and to achieve near-zero atmospheric emissions of all pollutants, including sulfur dioxide (SO2), NOX, mercury (Hg), and CO2.
The Advanced IGCC Program consists of a portfolio of projects focused on technologies that will aid in gasification’s commercial infiltration. Key program elements include:
- Advanced Gasification Concepts – Focuses on the development of advanced gasifiers, advanced materials (e.g., refractories), high pressure coal feed pumps, coal/biomass co-gasification, and new process instrumentation.
- Gas Cleaning and Conditioning – Focuses on the development of processes that operate at mild to high temperatures and provide multi-contaminant control to parts per billion levels. Advanced sorbents, catalysts, and hybrid cyclone/filter concepts are being investigated.
- Advanced Gas Separation – Focuses on the development of advanced air and H2/CO2 separation technologies that are potentially less expensive and more efficient than conventional technologies. Areas of investigation include ion transport membrane (ITM) for oxygen production, and membranes and chemical looping approaches for producing pure streams of H2 and CO2.
To further drive cost reductions, process improvements, and environmental advances across all gasification sub-systems, the Advanced IGCC Program also supports crosscutting research, development, analysis, and testing.
Advanced IGCC Program Mission:
- Lead R&D efforts to enhance the performance of gasification systems, thus enabling U.S. industry to improve the competitiveness of gasification-based processes. The gasification program will reduce capital investment, improve the process environmental performance, and increase process reliability and flexibility.
- By 2010, develop advanced gasification combined cycle technologies that can produce electricity from coal at 45 to 47 percent efficiency based on a higher heating value (HHV) at a capital cost of $1,600 per kilowatt (kW), in constant 2007 dollars.
- By 2015, gasification technology will be integrated at pilot-scale with at least 90 percent CO2 separation, capture, and sequestration into near-zero atmospheric emissions configurations that can ultimately provide electricity with less than a 10 percent increase in cost of electricity (COE).
Many improvements are necessary to overcome the barriers of gasification systems technology, such as:
- High capital and O&M costs relative to competing technologies.
- Questionable single train reliability resulting in added downtime.
- Increased capital cost when using redundant components.
- Inability of current commercial gasifiers to economically process multiple feedstocks.
Overcoming these and other technical and economic barriers requires close cooperation among government, industry, academia, and other program stakeholders.
The Gasification Technologies R&D program is subdivided into four areas, shown below. Click the links for more information on each program area.
Click here for Gasification related Publications, Presentations and Reports.