When your research team’s focus is to develop the next generation of advanced carbon dioxide (CO2) capture concepts to achieve the goal of a carbon-pollution-free power sector by 2035, a visit to a renowned facility where colleagues have completed more than 129,000 hours of technology testing is like a trip to a carbon capture hall of fame.
NETL’s Point Source Carbon Capture Team visited the National Carbon Capture Center (NCCC) in Alabama. NCCC is a world-class, neutral test facility focused on accelerating the development and commercialization of next-generation carbon reduction technologies for fossil-based power plants. Since its creation by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in 2009, the center has been a cornerstone of U.S. innovation in the research and development of cost-effective, technically viable carbon management technologies. NETL is a cosponsor of NCCC.
Managed and operated by Southern Company, the center has worked with more than 30 government, university and research organizations from seven countries. As a unique test bed for third-party developers, NCCC helps bridge the gap between laboratory research and large-scale demonstrations. The center’s state-of-the-art facilities provide realistic industrial operating conditions and the infrastructure to evaluate promising technologies for scale-up and future commercial deployment.
Its scope includes post-combustion carbon capture, carbon utilization and conversion, and negative-emission technologies such as direct air capture.
The NETL delegation also toured the Westover CO2 geological storage characterization borehole site, which is located near NCCC.
NETL project manager Andrew O’Palko, who led the team visit to NCCC, explained the relevance of the tour.
“NCCC offers the flexibility of testing multiple technologies simultaneously under industrial process conditions over a range of scenarios that enable evaluation of the efficiency, environmental performance, and economic viability of fossil fuel-fired power generation processes with CO₂ capture,” O’Palko said. “That’s testing capability that we find invaluable as we move forward on the NETL carbon capture research portfolio.”
He said NCCC tests a range of CO₂ removal technologies, such as direct air capture and other negative emissions technologies that are also subjects of NETL developmental research.
“NCCC’s test facilities are important for our NETL work because they serve to promote and conduct the evaluation of advanced technologies to identify and resolve environmental, health and safety, operational, component, and system development issues,” O’Palko explained. “Seeing NCCC operations first-hand helps us as we work with other technology developers within our project portfolio to move forward in their research and development efforts. We know what NCCC can do to assist and how to use those assets to advance transformational carbon capture technologies.”
The NETL team observed capabilities that support DOE and Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) project objectives including support for design, procurement, construction, installation, operation, and data analysis.
“NCCC also works with industry and universities on a full spectrum of technologies that are tested at its facilities,” O’Palko added. “Its work provides us, FECM and the rest of DOE with the information required to support CO₂ capture with a cost of less than $40/tonne by 2025 and with a cost of CO₂ capture of approximately $30/tonne beyond point source carbon capture.”
In addition to O’Palko, NETL personnel who participated in the tour were: José Figueroa, Nicole Shamitko-Klingensmith, Zachary Roberts, Mariah Richardson, Krista Hill, Carl Laird, Elliot Roth, Dustin Brown, Katharina Daniels, Andrew Jones, Naomi O’Neil, and Sally Homsy. Participating DOE-HQ personnel included Lynn Brickett, Dan Hancu, Raj Gaikwad, Andrew HLasko, and Nagamani Gavvalapalli.
Learn more about the carbon capture programs and all other NETL-supported technologies on the NETL website.
NETL is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory that drives innovation and delivers technological solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. By using its world-class talent and research facilities, NETL is ensuring affordable, abundant, and reliable energy that drives a robust economy and national security, while developing technologies to manage carbon across the full life cycle, enabling environmental sustainability for all Americans.