Merging Computational Modeling & Simulation Tools

Forging productive new partnerships involving academia, private industry and other federal research facilities that lead to new technologies for improving efficiencies in energy production is a specialty of NETL. The Laboratory’s Carbon Capture Simulation Initiative (CCSI) stands as a prime example. Through cooperative partnerships, CCSI and its next generation, CCSI2, produced a sophisticated toolset designed to disseminate computer simulation data for more efficient and cleaner fossil energy systems.


The CCSI Toolset provides a way of dramatically speeding up and reducing traditional risks associated with carbon capture technology for use in power plants that use fossil fuels. The CCSI partnership will help develop and deploy state-of-the-art computational modeling and simulation tools to accelerate the commercialization of carbon capture technologies through discovery, development, demonstration and, ultimately, widespread deployment to hundreds of power plants.

CCSI comprises a web of collaborators that stretch over eight states and incorporates five laboratories, five universities, and industry partners. It was formed by an organization that is exceptional in structure and scope. CCSI employs computer modeling simulations of complex systems, to advance carbon capture technology development and deployment. The type of modeling done by the initiative relies on expertise from multiple scientific disciplines, from statisticians to chemical engineers to material scientists.

By working closely with industry from the inception of the project to identify industrial problems, CCSI ensures that the simulation tools are developed for the carbon capture technologies of most relevance to industry. This project was the recipient of an R&D 100 award in 2016 making it an innovation judged by an independent panel to be among the most significant game-changing technologies of the year.

The Toolset is the only suite of computational tools and models specifically tailored to help maximize learning and reduce risk during the scale-up process for carbon-capture technologies. Modules were specifically tailored to guide experimental and pilot-scale testing.

Taking promising new power plant technologies from concept to commercial scale normally would take 20-30 years to manage the overall risk of the scale-up process. Ultimately, the CCSI Toolset will enable promising concepts to be quickly identified through rapid computational screening of devices and processes; reduce the time needed to design and troubleshoot new devices and processes; quantify the technical risks involved with taking technology from laboratory-scale to commercial-scale; and stabilize deployment costs by replacing some of the physical operational tests with virtual power plant simulations. The total cost savings that could be realized by using the CCSI toolset to scale up with wide deployment is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions.

Based on the success of the CCSI team in applying the toolset to industry relevant projects, DOE established CCSI2 to create formal partnerships with technology developers that accelerate the development of next-generation carbon-capture technologies. These partnerships will ensure that the full benefits of intermediate-scale projects are reaped by larger-scale projects.