9 September 2002 – Alstom has announced its participation in a US Department of Energy (DoE) funded project to develop and test new ways to capture, store and use carbon dioxide (CO2) gases produced by coal-based power plants.

Alstom will develop and test an approach to “carbon capture and sequestration,” a promising class of technologies that remove greenhouse gases from the exhausts of power plants and sequester them. As one of only eight projects selected in 2001 from 62 proposals submitted to the DoE, Alstom will test a new way to produce and capture concentrated CO2 by firing coal in oxygen (rather than air) in advanced boiler designs.

In addition, Alstom will evaluate ways to use the captured CO2 as a saleable by-product. Options include enhanced oil and/or natural gas recovery, in which CO2 is injected underground to recover existing fuel reserves, with much of the CO2 remaining stored in the reservoir. Alstom is currently exploring potential enhanced oil recovery applications.

The first phase of the project – which includes small-scale testing in addition to new power plant design, performance and economic analyses – is currently underway at Alstom’s Power Plant Laboratories, located in Windsor, Connecticut, USA. If successful, a second phase will begin in 2003 and include a pilot plant test of an advanced boiler concept design, performance and economic analyses. Alstom is leading this project, which also includes Parsons Energy & Chemical Group, Inc., Praxair, Inc., ABB Lummus Global, Inc., and Plasma Energy.

The US DoE’s Office of Fossil Energy, which will oversee the research, has set a goal of developing sequestration approaches that cost $10 or less per ton of carbon – equivalent to adding only 0.2 cents per kilowatt-hour to the average cost of electricity. Currently, only a limited number of sequestration options are available and are not cost-effective.

“If these new sequestration approaches prove to be technically and economically feasible, they could play a substantial role in limiting greenhouse gas emissions from fossil power plants,” said John Marion, Alstom’s manager of Contract R&D for Power Plant Laboratories.