Large Demonstrations


The DOE began to demonstrate advanced coal technologies at large scale in the mid 1980’s.  The initial focus was to enable mitigation of trans-boundary acid rain through the development and demonstration of a portfolio of technologies in the areas of environmental control devices, advanced power generation, and fuel processing – thus proving technical feasibility and providing information required for subsequent transfer to the commercial marketplace.  These large demonstrations established cost-sharing partnerships between the DOE, industry, universities, and technology suppliers and users.  The effort evolved to become a model of government and industry cooperation, with the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) stating it showed “how the government and the private sector can work effectively together to develop and demonstrate new technologies.”

In the mid 1980’s, only a few options existed for reducing the pollutants released from coal – and almost all of them were expensive.  Because of government-industry partnership, new, cleaner, lower-cost technologies became available for America's electric utilities and other industries.  One such example is flue gas desulfurization.  At the time, "scrubbers" were already being installed on many of the nation's power plants but they were expensive, difficult to operate, and experienced reliability problems.  DOE’s early large demonstrations proved new types of scrubbers with higher reliabilities and lower costs.  Between 1979 and 2000, the DOE funded $223 million (1999$) in R&D on improved scrubbers, with cost-share from industry.  The technological advances stimulated manufacturers to make improvements in nearly all scrubbers, redefining the state-of-the-art in scrubber technology and drastically reducing the capital and operating costs.  The combined direct economic benefit and resulting environmental improvement was conservatively estimated at more than $50 billion through 2005.


Wide deployment of technologies demonstrated at large scale in the 1980’s and 1990’s – low NOx burners, selective catalytic reduction (SCR), flue gas desulfurization, fluidized bed combustion, and even integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) with its more limited use – have helped to dramatically reduce potentially harmful emissions, even as coal use for electricity generation rose substantially.

In the early 2000’s, large demonstrations focused on more effective and lower cost emissions controls and improving the byproduct utilization, performance, and reliability of power plants.  Specific technologies included low NOx burners; a neural network-intelligent Soot-blowing system; conversion of spray dryer solid residue into lightweight aggregate meeting or exceeding American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) specifications for commercial construction-grade products, such as masonry blocks or lightweight concrete; advanced hybrid particulate collector technology; and, a multi-pollutant control technology suite featuring a selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR)/in-duct selective catalytic reduction (SCR) hybrid in combination with low-NOX burners and a circulating fluidized bed dry scrubber system.
More recent large demonstrations have focused on increased efficiency, enhanced environmental performance, poly-generation, and improved economics as compared to the state-of-the-art.  Associated technologies include advanced gasification; clean-up systems, including mercury control; and, carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies and/or beneficial reuse of CO2, including deep geologic storage with concomitant enhanced oil recovery (EOR).

Below is a list of all the large-scale demonstration projects, starting with the most recent, with a link to each respective project landing page.  If a project was not completed and/or no documents are available, no project landing page is associated with the project.