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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 Deborah S. Deffenbaugh, 210 522 2046, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, PO Drawer 28510, San Antonio, TX 78228-0510.