Fernando Vega


2 A 500 MWₑ Coal-Fired Power Plant Operated under Partial Oxy-Combustion: Methodology and Economic Evaluation

Authors: Fernando Vega, Esmeralda Portillo, Sara Camino, Benito Navarrete, Elena Montavez


The European Union aims at strongly reducing their CO₂ emissions from energy and industrial sector by 2030. The energy sector contributes with more than two-thirds of the CO₂ emission share derived from anthropogenic activities. Although efforts are mainly focused on the use of renewables by energy production sector, carbon capture and storage (CCS) remains as a frontline option to reduce CO₂ emissions from industrial process, particularly from fossil-fuel power plants and cement production. Among the most feasible and near-to-market CCS technologies, namely post-combustion and oxy-combustion, partial oxy-combustion is a novel concept that can potentially reduce the overall energy requirements of the CO₂ capture process. This technology consists in the use of higher oxygen content in the oxidizer that should increase the CO₂ concentration of the flue gas once the fuel is burnt. The CO₂ is then separated from the flue gas downstream by means of a conventional CO₂ chemical absorption process. The production of a higher CO₂ concentrated flue gas should enhance the CO₂ absorption into the solvent, leading to further reductions of the CO₂ separation performance in terms of solvent flow-rate, equipment size, and energy penalty related to the solvent regeneration. This work evaluates a portfolio of CCS technologies applied to fossil-fuel power plants. For this purpose, an economic evaluation methodology was developed in detail to determine the main economical parameters for CO₂ emission removal such as the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) and the CO₂ captured and avoided costs. ASPEN Plus™ software was used to simulate the main units of power plant and solve the energy and mass balance. Capital and investment costs were determined from the purchased cost of equipment, also engineering costs and project and process contingencies. The annual capital cost and operating and maintenance costs were later obtained. A complete energy balance was performed to determine the net power produced in each case. The baseline case consists of a supercritical 500 MWe coal-fired power plant using anthracite as a fuel without any CO₂ capture system. Four cases were proposed: conventional post-combustion capture, oxy-combustion and partial oxy-combustion using two levels of oxygen-enriched air (40%v/v and 75%v/v). CO₂ chemical absorption process using monoethanolamine (MEA) was used as a CO₂ separation process whereas the O₂ requirement was achieved using a conventional air separation unit (ASU) based on Linde's cryogenic process. Results showed a reduction of 15% of the total investment cost of the CO₂ separation process when partial oxy-combustion was used. Oxygen-enriched air production also reduced almost half the investment costs required for ASU in comparison with oxy-combustion cases. Partial oxy-combustion has a significant impact on the performance of both CO₂ separation and O₂ production technologies, and it can lead to further energy reductions using new developments on both CO₂ and O₂ separation processes.

Keywords: Economic Evaluation, Carbon capture, partial oxy-combustion, cost methodology

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1 Kinetic Evaluation of Sterically Hindered Amines under Partial Oxy-Combustion Conditions

Authors: Sara Camino, Fernando Vega, Mercedes Cano, Benito Navarrete, José A. Camino


Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies should play a relevant role towards low-carbon systems in the European Union by 2030. Partial oxy-combustion emerges as a promising CCS approach to mitigate anthropogenic CO₂ emissions. Its advantages respect to other CCS technologies rely on the production of a higher CO₂ concentrated flue gas than these provided by conventional air-firing processes. The presence of more CO₂ in the flue gas increases the driving force in the separation process and hence it might lead to further reductions of the energy requirements of the overall CO₂ capture process. A higher CO₂ concentrated flue gas should enhance the CO₂ capture by chemical absorption in solvent kinetic and CO₂ cyclic capacity. They have impact on the performance of the overall CO₂ absorption process by reducing the solvent flow-rate required for a specific CO₂ removal efficiency. Lower solvent flow-rates decreases the reboiler duty during the regeneration stage and also reduces the equipment size and pumping costs. Moreover, R&D activities in this field are focused on novel solvents and blends that provide lower CO₂ absorption enthalpies and therefore lower energy penalties associated to the solvent regeneration. In this respect, sterically hindered amines are considered potential solvents for CO₂ capture. They provide a low energy requirement during the regeneration process due to its molecular structure. However, its absorption kinetics are slow and they must be promoted by blending with faster solvents such as monoethanolamine (MEA) and piperazine (PZ). In this work, the kinetic behavior of two sterically hindered amines were studied under partial oxy-combustion conditions and compared with MEA. A lab-scale semi-batch reactor was used. The CO₂ composition of the synthetic flue gas varied from 15%v/v – conventional coal combustion – to 60%v/v – maximum CO₂ concentration allowable for an optimal partial oxy-combustion operation. Firstly, 2-amino-2-methyl-1-propanol (AMP) showed a hybrid behavior with fast kinetics and a low enthalpy of CO₂ absorption. The second solvent was Isophrondiamine (IF), which has a steric hindrance in one of the amino groups. Its free amino group increases its cyclic capacity. In general, the presence of higher CO₂ concentration in the flue gas accelerated the CO₂ absorption phenomena, producing higher CO₂ absorption rates. In addition, the evolution of the CO2 loading also exhibited higher values in the experiments using higher CO₂ concentrated flue gas. The steric hindrance causes a hybrid behavior in this solvent, between both fast and slow kinetic solvents. The kinetics rates observed in all the experiments carried out using AMP were higher than MEA, but lower than the IF. The kinetic enhancement experienced by AMP at a high CO2 concentration is slightly over 60%, instead of 70% – 80% for IF. AMP also improved its CO₂ absorption capacity by 24.7%, from 15%v/v to 60%v/v, almost double the improvements achieved by MEA. In IF experiments, the CO₂ loading increased around 10% from 15%v/v to 60%v/v CO₂ and it changed from 1.10 to 1.34 mole CO₂ per mole solvent, more than 20% of increase. This hybrid kinetic behavior makes AMP and IF promising solvents for partial oxy–combustion applications.

Keywords: Solvent, Absorption, Carbon capture, partial oxy-combustion

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