By W. James O’Brien, W. James O’Brien Associates Industrial Cost Analysis Services
© American Coal Online
Surplus asset deployment
The quantity of byproducts of the coal combustion process can be measured in megatons and today it is refreshing to note that serious thought and effort have been expended on developing a full range of uses for them. As every coal-fueled power plant of any magnitude has a surplus asset management team, seeking advisement of specialist chemists in hydrocarbon engineering cannot be over-stressed.
Localization of co-products marketing
All electric utilities have sales representative teams that presently service electrical requirements of their business-customer base. This added activity gives them another portfolio of products to sell to their existing base while they in turn provide feedback to industrial co-location planning.
Synchronizing with the pre-existing FutureGen 2.0
President George W. Bush established the FutureGen project in 2003 (now known as FutureGen 2.0, www.futuregenalliance.org). In the nine years the program has been in existence, the project has solidified into an achievable conversion scheme that is comprised of two parts: burner changeover to oxyfuel burners and carbon capture and storage (CCS). What this article proposes is carbon capture and conversion (CCC).
There is currently an early draft of a federal model enabling conversion of 680-plus coal-fueled plants nationwide to oxyfuel combustion with carbon capture. Babcock & Wilcox are the lead suppliers and technology developers for the oxyfuel coal burner array.
At the same time, a federal team is working to help implement 100 percent coal combustion byproduct conversion to sellable products. This plan is described by the National Energy Technology Lab’s Carbon Utilization Team (http://bit.ly/V5fAa4).
This draft federal plan seeks to make conversion of the existing coal fleet possible through the provision of partial or complete financing. At present, this is, at best, an unfunded and non-fundable mandate, at least by the federal government. County-level industrial development authority bond issuances are a better bet than waiting on the federal government to provide for future plant expansion.
To successfully address compliance with regulatory emissions strictures without exposing a plant’s bottom line, an incremental implementation of the Carnegie-Ford Template on a “pay-as-you-go” basis is one option among several. Fischer-Tropsch units now are available in packages that are 90 percent smaller than their predecessors of five years ago and the new and more highly efficient catalysts for the job of converting CO2 to syngas are easily available as well. Oxford Catalysts Group PLC (www.oxfordcatalysts.com) is one of many suppliers, which provides packages with financing, installation and training personnel. They will also set up operations through a designated subcontractor. The mini-plant for gasification of coal, the manufacture of ammonia and a broad range of chemical byproducts is available and deployable on a commercial, off-the-shelf basis from reputable and long-established refinery equipment suppliers out of Houston, Texas or Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Once set up with a mini-plant, or a subcontractor operating one in service to the coal plant, the revenue stream due to the coal plant from the mini-plant’s operation is firewalled to provide for individual plant oxyfuel burner conversion and carbon capture, storage and processing.