This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

November 03, 2010

Carbon Capture and Storage Project Seeks Carbon Dioxide Storage Site

The FutureGen Industrial Alliance announced on October 25 that it is seeking proposals from communities that would like to host the carbon dioxide storage site for the FutureGen 2.0 project, the first commercial-scale coal-fired power plant with carbon capture and storage. For the project, Ameren Energy Resources, the Babcock & Wilcox Company, and Air Liquide Process & Construction will retrofit Ameren's 200-megawatt coal-fired Unit 4 in Meredosia, Illinois, with advanced oxy-combustion technology. The technology involves burning the coal with a nearly pure oxygen stream to produce a flue gas consisting mainly of carbon dioxide and water vapor. Removing the water vapor results in a concentrated stream of carbon dioxide, which can be sequestered in a geologic formation. See the process description from DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory.

The plant's new boiler, air separation unit, and carbon dioxide purification and compression unit will capture 90% of the unit's carbon dioxide emissions while eliminating most of the emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, mercury, and particulates. The Ameren team estimates retrofitting of the plant will create approximately 500 construction jobs and allow Ameren to add approximately 50 workers to the plant staff once the retrofitted unit is operational. DOE announced its support of the project in August, and in late September formally committed $1 billion in funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to help build the project. DOE is working with the FutureGen Industrial Alliance, which consists largely of coal suppliers and energy companies. See the DOE press releases from August and September.

The published guidance and the request for site proposals show how the future coal-fired power industry might work. The alliance knows that a deep geologic saline formation underlies the State of Illinois, providing the best local option for geologic storage of the carbon dioxide. The intent is to create a regional storage site and build a pipeline from the Ameren plant to the site. This regional hub must accept 1.3 million metric tons (MMT) of carbon dioxide from the Ameren plant each year for the next 30 years, for a total of about 39 MMT. To allow other sources to use the hub, its minimum capacity must be 100 MMT. It has the possibility of expanding to 500 MMT.

For the initial test site, the alliance is requiring sufficient access to land areas above the anticipated carbon dioxide plume to allow for monitoring, noting that a 100-MMT plume will probably underlie about 2,400 acres of land. This plume must lie entirely within Illinois; cannot be under a public access area, such as a park; and cannot be beneath a major body of water. Proposals are due by November 15, and the alliance expects to select a site in early 2011. Extensive technical and environmental studies will follow to assure the site's safety and suitability. See the alliance Web site, press releasePDF, site guidancePDF, and request for proposalsPDF.