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New NETL Modeling Library to Improve Power Plant Efficiency

As part of an update to NETL’s Institute for the Design of Advanced Energy Systems (IDAES) Integrated Platform, the Lab is announcing the release of a robust new dynamic power plant modeling library that could lead to more efficient, reliable and flexible power plants while providing a foundation for the development of innovative, new integrated energy systems to support widespread decarbonization.

The IDAES Dynamic Power Plant Modeling Library can be leveraged to improve power plant efficiency during flexible operation and explore tradeoffs between the short-term benefits of quickly ramping capacity with long-term impacts on equipment health.

“Understanding these tradeoffs is important because most existing power plants were designed for baseload operation,” said NETL’s Stephen E. Zitney, Ph.D., who has led this work. “In recent years, electricity generation from renewable energy sources has rapidly increased. Due to intermittency of renewable energy sources, conventional carbon-based power plants are being forced to cycle their load more frequently and rapidly than their intended design.”

Rapid temperature and pressure changes may introduce thermomechanical stresses, which can cause fatigue that leads to equipment damage or failure. To help mitigate these outcomes, Zitney and the rest of the IDAES team developed the dynamic unit model library on the IDAES platform for almost all equipment in a coal-fired power plant. These unit models, along with process control models, are helping researchers investigate the impact of flexible operations on overall plant efficiency and equipment health while enabling determination of optimal trajectories during ramping that can balance revenue generation with effect on equipment life.

“The IDAES team has demonstrated the capability to improve efficiency at existing power plants using these models,” said David C. Miller, Ph.D., NETL senior fellow and leader of IDAES. “This dynamic model library, along with the multi-scale optimization capabilities of IDAES, provides a solid foundation for the design of the new highly flexible, integrated energy systems necessary to decarbonize the global economy.”

IDAES is an open-source, advanced equation-oriented modeling and optimization platform developed with funding from the Simulation-Based Engineering Program within the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy. Led by NETL, the IDAES technical team includes collaborators from Sandia National Laboratories, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, West Virginia University, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Notre Dame. IDAES has an active stakeholder community that includes representatives from multiple industrial sectors.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory develops and commercializes advanced technologies that provide clean energy while safeguarding the environment. NETL’s work supports DOE’s mission to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy and environmental challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.