Department of Energy programme sets goal of zero emission power plant

The energy plant of the future is being developed through a series of research projects funded jointly between the US Department of Energy (DOE) fossil energy division and private sector partners. The Vision 21 Programme seeks to develop an ultra-clean, virtually emission-free power plant ready for commercial generation by 2015.

The programme sponsors emerging state-of-the-art technologies, which will be combined in a modular plant configuration to utilize multiple fuels (coal, natural gas, biomass, petroleum coke, and municipal waste) and produce electricity along with other liquid fuels and/or chemicals. The program sets performance targets of greater than 60 per cent fuel to energy efficiency for coal systems and greater than 75 per cent fuel to energy efficiency for gas.

Speaking at the recent annual meeting of the Western Coal Transportation Association, Fred Palmer, vice president of legal and external affairs for Peabody Energy, said that Peabody Energy is fully supporting and is an active partner in the Department of Energy’s Vision 21 Program. The goal of this innovative programme is to build the power plant of the future with essentially zero emissions. Palmer went on to mention an ambitious coal industry program to achieve a zero emission coal-fired power plant in operation by 2025.

This summer the DOE announced the winners of the third and final round of project funding. So far the DOE has promised $22m to be spent over three years on the twelve projects selected. These projects focus on developing specific modular components of the plant and involve fuel cell technologies, coal gasification, high strength materials, hydrogen separation, and computer systems to name a few.

Vision 21, if successful, could revolutionize the power and fuels industry within the next 15 years.

The approach is to develop a suite of technology modules that can be interconnected in different configurations to produce selected products. These modular facilities will be capable of using a multiplicity of fuels to competitively produce a number of commodities.

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