May 2015

Building a better boiler

Oxy-coal boiler-based power plants would burn coal with pure oxygen, rather than air, providing economic and environmental advantages – like carbon dioxide that’s easily captured for underground sequestration.

Modeling such a boiler is a goal of the Carbon Capture Multidisciplinary Simulation Center (CCMSC), which supports a multidisciplinary team of computer scientists, chemical and mechanical engineers, mathematicians and physicists – among them Philip Smith, a University of Utah chemical engineering professor and the CCMSC’s principal investigator.

The Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration’s Predictive Science Academic Alliance Program funds the center’s activities, which are linked to the White Rose Carbon Capture & Storage Project.

The project – a consortium that includes Alstom, a French engineering group owned by General Electric Co. – plans to build an oxy-coal boiler plant that will burn coal cleaner than conventional plants, then capture the resulting carbon dioxide and send it through an underground pipeline for sequestration beneath the North Sea.

The boiler, with a volume of about 3,000 cubic meters, could be operational as early as 2018. It’s considered a forerunner of next-generation of clean coal boilers.