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Ion Transport Membrane to be Used in Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle Oxyfuel Combustion

Published on May 22, 2009 at 2:23 AM

Air Products (NYSE: APD) and the ElectricPower Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI) today announced the signing of an agreement which will support Air Products' ion transport membrane (ITM) development for use in integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC), oxyfuel combustion, and other advanced power generation systems.

An EPRI electric industry collaborative will help advance Air Products' on-going ITM project with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop this new oxygen production technology, which could significantly increase the efficiency and reduce the costs of advanced coal-fired power plants, both with and without carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and storage systems. EPRI's global collaborative efforts will focus on power industry-relevant design cases and features, and specific tests to help advance the overall ITM program toward successful deployment in the power industry.

"ITM technology would change the way oxygen is separated and used. EPRI's involvement with this technology is important as EPRI will directly involve the electric utility industry in helping to guide scale-up and integration of ITM technology for clean energy. This collaboration will give the industry a first-hand understanding of the technology," said Ted Foster, director, business development for Advanced Gas Separation at Air Products.

ITM technology uses a ceramic material which, under pressure and temperature, ionizes and separates oxygen molecules from air. No external source of electrical power is required in this process. The technology would be an alternative to traditional cryogenic air separation units, the conventional means of producing the large quantities of oxygen required by an IGCC plant and by any oxyfuel combustion power system. ITM technology would typically decrease internal power demand by as much as 30 percent and capital costs by approximately 30 percent in the oxygen supply systems at these power plants.

"By reducing the cost of coal gasification and oxy-fuel combustion, ITM technology will help enable a future generation of coal-fired power plants that will capture and store their CO2 emissions while using less of the world's limited land and water resources," said Bryan Hannegan, vice president of Environment and Generation at EPRI. "EPRI is pleased to bring together a collaborative of several utility companies in support of Air Products' development of ITM technology for power applications, and we expect that our efforts will help accelerate ITM technology to market." Hannegan added that other potential benefits of this technology could include reduced cooling water use and land or space requirement for oxygen separation plants.

The oxygen requirements for the power generation industry could grow substantially in supporting advanced coal-based generation and integrated carbon capture technology. EPRI estimates the current U.S. power generation industry share of the oxygen market is about four percent, but it could become the dominating market driver, accounting for more than 60 percent of the future market, or approximately two million tons-per-day (TPD) of oxygen by 2040.

Air Products and EPRI will examine the scale-up of the process and equipment, and the integration of ITM technology with other operations in advanced coal power systems. This research strengthens theon-going work by Air Products in the DOE cooperative program to develop options to lower the capital and operational costs of IGCC and oxyfuel combustion systems that require large amounts of oxygen. Air Products, which has been developing ITM technology since 1988, and the DOE already are collecting data from the operation of a five TPD oxygen pilot plant unit near Baltimore, Md. This Baltimore facility leads to the next step of designing, building, and testing a 150 TPD unit, and integrating it with a 5-to-15 megawatt industrial turbomachinery device. Completion of the 150 TPD intermediate scale test unit is expected in 2010.

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