About Us

Project captures carbon dioxide at FirstEnergy site

Dec 22, 2009 - Bob Downing - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Testing at a FirstEnergy Corp. coal-burning power plant in eastern Ohio shows that carbon dioxide can successfully be captured, a New Hampshire-based company announced today.

Powerspan Corp. said its one-megawatt post-combustion pilot unit at the R.E. Burger Power Plant at Shadyside in Belmont County captured 90 percent of the carbon dioxide, a key global warming gas.

The pilot project handled about 20 tons of carbon dioxide per day from the flue gases generated by the Burger plant.

The project was a success and the company intends to move toward commercial-scale demonstration systems for existing coal-fired power plants, the firm said in a statement.

In early 2010, Powerspan intends to publish an independent review of the Burger test, along with an independent assessment of commercial costs.

Commercial cost estimates based on pilot performance data are less than $50 per ton for capture and compression of the carbon dioxide, said Powerspan, based in Portsmouth.

"Our goal with the pilot unit has been to demonstrate performance that results in lower energy costs than other post-combustion CO2-capture technologies," said Christopher R. McLarnon, Powerspan's senior vice president of engineering and research and development.

"The pilot performance data we have gathered shows that we have achieved this goal and we are continuing to optimize the system," McLarnon said.

FirstEnergy is pleased to have been involved in the Burger test, said Morgan Jones, staff environmental specialist at FirstEnergy.

"We continue to believe that technology development is the best approach for cost effectively reducing CO2 emissions from existing power plants," he said.

How to successfully and economically capture carbon dioxide from existing coal-fired plants has been a major concern for utilities like FirstEnergy.

The gas was captured and purified to meet pipeline standards and was made ready for sequestration or storage in underground rock formations, said Powerspan spokeswoman Stephanie Procopis. The gas was then vented into the air, she said.

The Burger tests -- jointly funded by Powerspan and FirstEnergy -- began in late 2008.

FirstEnergy is converting two boilers at the 312-megawatt Burger plant from coal to largely wood by Dec. 31, 2012. The $200 million conversion is designed to reduce air pollution from burning coal under a consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department.

Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or bdowning@thebeaconjournal.com.