Thursday, March 12, 2009

FutureGen, and the Natural Gas Report

Well I was planning on just putting up a quick post today on the natural gas report, and then trotting off, but I noticed that the plans for the FutureGen program in Illinois seem to be gaining legs so herewith a couple of words on that. The program itself is to build a coal-fired power plant at Mattoon and to make it such that is has a near-zero emission level, while producing hydrogen as well as low-cost electric power. Some of the technologies that it will employ have not been demonstrated at this scale before (the plant is a 275 MW unit, that will operate using a variety of different coals initially, to get baseline data, but will possibly use Illinois #6 or similar local coals once in steady operation). The plant is currently planning on using rock that is some 3,000 ft below the surface, and filled with a salt water (the deep-saline reservoir) since this is deep enough that the CO2 can be injected as a liquid (smaller volume) and will remain in this form, and that the reservoirs are big enough to hold the volumes that will be produced. (At these pressures the purists will tell you that the CO2 is a super-critical fluid, rather than a liquid, but for simplicity it can be considered in this discussion to act like one). The plant is going to generate between 1 and 2.5 million metric tons of CO2 each year, and has found several sites that can hold more than 50 million tons apiece. If the sites aren’t on the property, then the fluid will be pumped to the site through pipes that will likely be 10 -16 inches in diameter.

While the plant will produce hydrogen, this will largely be used at the site, rather than becoming a commercial product. The site notes (most of this information is from the FutureGen site) that there are two existing IGCC sites, one at Tampa Electric, and one at Terre Haute.

The combustion technology for these Integrated coal Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) plants is a combination of two technologies, and as described at Tampa:
The first technology is called "coal gasification," which uses coal to create a clean-burning gas. The second technology is called "combined-cycle," which is the most efficient method of producing electricity commercially available today.

The plant combines coal with oxygen in the gasifier to produce the gaseous fuel. After processing, the clean coal gas is used in the combustion turbine to produce electricity.Combined-cycle technology increases efficiency because it reuses exhaust heat to produce more electricity.

Combined-cycle design consists of a combustion turbine, a heat recovery steam generator, and a steam turbine. The exhaust heat from the combustion turbine is recovered in the heat recovery steam generator to produce steam. This steam then passes through a steam turbine to produce more electricity. . . . . .

The coal gasification unit provides clean, coal-fueled power, with a minimum removal of 95 percent of the sulfur from the coal gas. This exceeds the performance of today's most advanced coal-fired generating units. Furthermore, nitrogen oxides emissions are also lower than many of today’s most advanced coal-fired generating units. The sulfuric acid and solid byproducts are then sold for industry use. The plant is considered "zero process water discharge.” A brine concentration unit, which produces an effluent that is reused in the process, handles all of the liquid waste.
Wikipedia has a circuit diagram of the process.The Terre Haute plant has changed hands since it was first built.

So we will see how the politics plays out on this, this time around, given that it appears to have the blessing of the Secretary of Energy.

Turning to the Natural Gas Weekly Update the news for gas producers remains unfortunate (though good for customers). While the Henry Hub price remains around $4 per kcf (thousand cubic feet) prices west of the Mississippi have dropped to under $3, with the Opal trading hub in Wyoming seeing a price of $2.53. There has recently been a surplus of gas in the West, and the Rockies Express pipeline was supposed to allow easier passage to the markets of the East. It is already helping in that regard, but it still has a long way to get to the Northeast where demand, and a cold snap put the price up to over $9.13 on the coldest day. Winter is, however, coming to an end, and so it remains unlikely that the trends in the graph that the site updates each week, are going to change soon.

Source EIA


No comments:

Post a Comment