By Gary Thomas
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected the Unity Power Alliance (UPA), a joint venture between ITEA and ThermoEnergy, for a grant to further develop the company’s patented pressurized oxy-combustion technology to generate clean electric power using coal.
DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) will provide the funding. NETL's objective is to support the development of technologies that is capable of capturing 90% of carbon dioxide from power facilities at below a 35% increase in electricity cost.
UPA’s pressurized oxy-combustion technology involves coal burning at high pressures in the presence of highly purified oxygen rather than in air at normal pressure as in the case of traditional coal plants. This technology improves the efficiency of power plants and facilitates the capturing of nearly all pollutants, which include carbon dioxide that plays key role in climate change, prior to their entry into the atmosphere.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is imposing stringent pollution regulations on coal plants and is advising carbon dioxide emission reduction for power plants. UPA's pressurized oxy-combustion technology will enable existing coal plants to fulfil both these regulations and anticipated rigorous regulations in the coming years. Retrofitting of UPA's technology on current coal facilities is a $65 billion worth market.
Robert Marrs, UPA’s Managing Director, stated that the grant will facilitate the venture to improve the technology’s efficiency as well as the ability to capture carbon dioxide. The overall objective is to lay the cornerstone for a 50 MW pressurized oxy-combustion power facility and then for a 320 MW commercial power facility.
ITEA has devised a patented flameless combustion method for coal plants and runs a 5 MW thermal energy plant in Italy. The company has also commissioned a 15 MW thermal energy commercial plant in Singapore. The Georgia Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are also taking part in the UPA Program.