On January 11, 2011, the Department of Energy’s (“DOE”) Existing Plant Program and Sequestration program at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (“NETL”) released their December 2010 Carbon Dioxide Capture (“CCS”) and Storage RD&D (research, development, and demonstration) Roadmap (the “roadmap”).  The roadmap outlined the DOE’s efforts to advance CCS technology.  The roadmap also stated combustion of fossil fuels plays an integral role in American energy security and economic competition.  However, with the greater emphasis CO2 emission reduction in the United Stated, CCS technology will be vital to further development.

NETL implements DOE’s Clean Coal Research Program, and that program focuses on developing CCS technologies in the fastest, most economic way.   The focus of NETL research is to assess technology through three approaches: 1) pre-combustion, 2) post-combustion, and 3) oxy-combustion.  Pre-combustion refers to the removal of CO2 from syngas prior to its combustion, and post-combustion is the removal of CO2 from flue gas.  Post-combustion applies to coal, oil, and gas-fired plants, but it does not apply to combined cycle plants.  Oxy-combustion utilizes oxygen in the CO2 combustion where the main byproduct its CO2 and H2O.  Then, in order to capture almost all of the CO2 the water is condensed from the exhaust stream.

CCS involves: 1) CO2 capture, 2) CO2 compression and transportation, and 3) CO2 storage, and one of the major goals according to the roadmap is to aggressively seek out ways to reduce the cost increase of implementing CCS technology at a coal plant from eighty to thirty percent in additional expenses.  That cost reduction would also include a less than ten percent increase in the cost of power for new gasification-based facilities. 

The roadmap also acknowledged there will be key regional and geographic differences in adopting CCS technologies, and the technologies must be tested at a full scale integrated facility before the new technologies are deployed commercially.  Thus, advanced CCS technology is expected to be deployed by the year 2030.

A link to the roadmap and DOE’s announcement of the roadmap are available here.