Chemical Looping Combustion

An economical option for using our abundant, domestic coal resources while eliminating CO2 emissions may sound like science fiction, but NETL researchers are working to bring this technology of the future into the present. Chemical looping is the solution. This cost-effective indirect combustion technology has CO2 capture “built in,” effectively eradicating greenhouse gas emissions from coal.

Although still a few years away from wide-spread deployment, chemical looping combustion (CLC) offers many benefits. CLC operates at conditions similar to those present in today’s power plants so energy systems built using conventional construction materials and techniques can accommodate CLC, which decreases capital costs. Another benefit is that CLC produces highly concentrated CO2, which can be purified, compressed, and sent for storage or reuse. Doing so makes a separate—and expensive—CO2 separation process unnecessary. NETL is a pioneer in chemical looping research, incorporating testing, computer simulation, and techno-economic studies to accelerate the technology’s development.

Using NETL’s own chemical looping reactor, researchers have developed sensors that reveal how evenly carriers circulate, validated the accuracy of CLC computer models, and verified that the CLC process is viable. NETL researchers have also assessed how oxygen carriers perform in realistic settings and are one of the few groups that have manufactured a new oxygen carrier, patented it, and proved performance at pilot scale. These efforts all contribute to advancing CLC toward commercialization.