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NETL-Developed Oxygen Carrier Selected for Use in Canadian Government-Industry Project
The microscopic structure of NETL's oxygen carriers.

Caption: NETL’s more durable oxygen carriers will be used in a project by the Canadian government and their industry collaborator. The microscopic structure of the material can be seen here in the expanded view.

An advanced material that demonstrated unparalleled durability in a groundbreaking NETL test was recently selected by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and their industry collaborator Hatch for use in a novel chemical looping combustion (CLC) reactor.

CLC is an advanced energy technology capable of delivering affordable and dependable power, process heat, steam and synthesis gas while reducing environmental impacts due to the process’s in-situ carbon dioxide (CO2) separation and capture capability.

“By using an advanced solid material called an oxygen carrier for combustion or other processes, we can create oxygen in situ,” said Ranjani Siriwardane, Ph.D., who developed the material with Jarret Riley, Ph.D., fellow NETL researcher, and William Benincosa, Ph.D., a former research intern. “Doing this, rather than separating the oxygen from the air, greatly simplifies carbon capture, resulting in just CO2 and water. After condensing the water, you are left with a highly concentrated stream of CO2 that can be compressed and sent for storage or beneficial use.”

Oxygen carrier durability is a major technical barrier to CLC success, but NETL has made significant strides toward mitigating this issue through its oxygen carrier research. The Lab’s work to advance the state-of-the-art technology has not gone unnoticed by industry — when Hatch and NRCan collaborated on the development of a novel CLC reactor utilizing Hatch’s novel Plug Flow Internal Recirculation (PFIR) reactor technology, NETL’s most innovative materials were among those tested at NRCan.

“Our oxygen carrier has shown promising results for CLC energy production using the proprietary high-pressure PFIR reactor,” Siriwardane said. “Our materials appear to be the best available to meet their technology needs based on the initial tests, and the team has selected the NETL oxygen carrier for further, pilot-scale testing.”

The novel reactor was designed as an alternative to conventional two-reactor CLC systems and hosts the CLC process within a single pressurized reactor. This unique design will be used in a 600-kilowatt-thermal-capacity-scale Pressurized Chemical Looping (PCL) pilot plant. When scaled up, the PCL system will be able to provide heat, power and other potential primary products such as syngas and hydrogen for industrial applications while producing high-pressure, sequestration-ready CO2, which minimizes costs associated with compressing the gas separately.

“The selection of NETL oxygen carriers for this project underscores the Lab’s expertise in materials development,” Siriwardane said. “This project has the potential to push CLC technology even closer toward commercialization, enabling higher power plant efficiencies while simultaneously mitigating CO2 emissions.”

NRCan is a Canadian government department committed to improving the quality of life of Canadians by ensuring the country’s abundant natural resources are developed sustainably, competitively and inclusively. Within the Energy Efficiency and Technology Sector, CanmetENERGY-Ottawa leads the development of energy science and technology solutions for the environmental and economic benefit of Canadians.

Hatch is an engineering, project management and professional services firm that designs and builds to suit their clients’ vision. With over six decades of business and technical experience in the mining, energy and infrastructure sectors, they know their clients’ business. Hatch also understands that challenges change rapidly, so they respond quickly with solutions that are smarter, more efficient and innovative. Hatch draws upon their 10,000 staff with experience in over 150 countries to challenge the status quo and create positive change for their clients, employees and communities. Find out more on

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 leveraging 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.