When it comes to reducing emissions, carbon capture technology has tremendous benefits.

Take the Petra Nova facility in Fort Bend County, Texas, for example. A ton of CO2 is captured by NRG Energy at its W.A. Parish Generating Station every 17 seconds. The $1 billion project, which received up to $190 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), is the world’s largest carbon-capture plant.

The facility began operations in late 2016 and involved retrofitting the existing coal-fired power plant.

The carbon capture process at Petro Nova takes flue gas from the power plant and runs it through a flue gas quencher. It is then cooled before a solvent, called KS-1, captures the CO2. The chemical has a socket that fits CO2, enabling the two to bind. The CO2 is then stripped from the solvent in a regenerator and compressed. The CO2 captured is then sent via pipeline to Hilcorp Energy’s West Ranch oil field in Jackson County, Texas, where it is used for EOR.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) highlighted Petra Nova, a joint venture between NRG and project partners JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration of Japan and Hilcorp, in a report this week.

“The 240-megawatt (MW) carbon capture system that was added to Unit 8 (654 MW capacity) of the existing W.A. Parish pulverized coal-fired generating plant receives about 37% of Unit 8’s emissions, which are diverted through a flue gas slipstream,” the EIA said. “Petra Nova’s carbon-capture system is designed to capture about 90% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from the flue gas slipstream, or about 33% of the total emissions from Unit 8. The post-combustion process is energy intensive and requires a dedicated natural gas unit to accommodate the energy requirements of the carbon-capture process.”

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The technology used for Petra Nova was co-created by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kansai Electric Power Co.

However, given the high costs of carbon capture projects, the DOE is making more funding available in an effort to “provide step-change reductions in both cost and energy penalties associated with implementing carbon capture and enabling technologies for the coal and natural gas power generation sector.”

The DOE announced in October the availability of up to $26 million in federally funded financial assistance for cost-shared R&D projects.

The funding opportunity, which is available through the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy, focuses on two areas. As described in a press release, the areas are:

  • Development of Novel Transformational Materials and Processes: Projects in this area will focus on research support and validation of transformational materials and capture processes. Examples include “novel water-lean solvents and other materials that can significantly increase CO2 absorption performance, economics, and other benefits,” the DOE said. “Projects may also focus on advanced membranes or hybrid materials and processes that can be tested at bench-scale on natural gas and/or coal-fired flue gas, showing potential to meet DOE’s transformational carbon capture goals; and
  • Enabling Technologies to Improve Carbon Capture Systems: Aimed at supporting bench-scale research, the DOE said projects selected under this category will focus on addressing challenges posed by certain advanced carbon capture technologies. “By developing these enabling technologies, overall improvement in carbon capture systems that is or is not specific to any one technology developer might be realized,” the DOE said.

In all, the DOE plans to select up to 14 projects. More information can be found online.

Velda Addison can be reached at vaddison@hartenergy.com.