Advanced science.  Applied technology.


SwRI developing flameless oxy-combustion technology for coal-fired plants

May 8, 2018 — Work is underway at Southwest Research Institute to support a $998,862 U.S. Department of Energy project awarded in February 2018 to develop coal-fired flameless pressurized oxy-combustion technology. The goal is to integrate the technology into a 50-megawatt pilot power plant. The contract is one of several awarded to SwRI over the past six years to advance turbine technology for power plants.  

To achieve flameless pressurized oxy-combustion in coal-fired plants, coal is mixed with water and injected into a combustor at elevated pressure. The hot gases boil water and generate steam to move a turbine and produce power. Some of the gases are subsequently looped back into the combustor for a more complete combustion environment that produces even more power. The remaining gases flow through a turbo-expander, a device that extracts additional power from a portion of these gases.

“This project is part of an ongoing effort to develop and prove this technology at the pilot-plant level,” said Joshua Schmitt, a research engineer in SwRI’s Mechanical Engineering Division, who will manage the project. SwRI is leading the effort and is working with subcontractors ITEA, EPRI, Sergeant & Lundy and GE Global Research.

The project has three phases, with Phase 1 slated to be completed by July 2019. Phase 1 objectives include reducing pilot plant cost, collecting information for an environmental impact study in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, and securing a host site for the pilot plant.

“We will assist in cost and sourcing efforts in addition to working with GE to develop the advanced flue gas turbo-expander,” Schmitt added.

Phase 2, if awarded, will continue immediately after Phase 1, and will include an engineering design effort and securing cost share for Phase 3. Phase 3 will involve final engineering design, construction and testing of the 50 MW pilot power plant.

For more information, visit Conventional Power Generation or contact SwRI Solutions.