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Title: Enabling Staged Pressurized Oxy-Combustion: Improving Flexibility and Performance at Reduced Cost

Abstract

Introduction: The staged pressurized oxy-combustion (SPOC) process, developed by Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL), is an oxy-combustion carbon capture technology that employs a steam power cycle to generate electricity. As with atmospheric-pressure oxy-combustion processes, carbon dioxide (CO2) capture rates of 90% or higher can be achieved. The staged-combustion approach of the SPOC process, when operated at elevated gas pressure, allows for near elimination of flue gas recycle (FGR) and leads to significant improvements in efficiency and reduced costs. The primary goal of this project was to investigate the potential for SPOC for flexible operation beyond the capabilities of conventional coal-fired power plants, particularly those employing carbon capture and storage (CCS). Oxy-combustion differs from conventional coal combustion in that the combustion of coal is carried out using oxygen as opposed to air. The resultant flue gas is a mixture of primarily CO2 and water, greatly simplifying CO2 capture. As SPOC does the oxy-combustion process under pressure, it is higher efficiency and lower cost than atmospheric oxy-combustion. The project was led by the Electric Power Research Institute, Inc., with the assistance of WUSTL, Doosan Babcock (DBL – boiler plant original equipment manufacturer), and Air Liquide (AL – air separation experts). Themore » specific objectives of the project were to: Evaluate the SPOC concept and develop a risk-based approach to the heating surface layout ensuring that performance (gas and steam side), manufacturing, transportation, and plant erection considerations were fully accounted for in the system design. Improve the technology to ensure its performance and cost potential are substantially better than today’s baseline pulverized coal power plant with post-combustion capture (PCC) or atmospheric oxy-combustion, and show progress toward performance commensurate with projected commercial operation, including 90% or more CO2 capture. Address critical technology gaps and improving overall system performance for the technology. Perform combustion tests at scale under commensurate pressure to the commercial operating system validate combustor and advance the SPOC combustion modeling tools that will facilitate full-scale design. Combustion Testing: Testing was initially carried out at atmospheric pressure with methane to ensure that all systems were correctly operating. Following this, the testing then proceeded to moderate pressure operation at 4 bara, where different stoichiometric conditions were used across an extended heat input range, showing that a stable flame could be maintained. Testing then proceeded at 10 and 15 bara where it was shown that the ignition system needed to be replaced at these operating conditions. When testing recommenced, a similar stable flame shape was achieved, without any methane support, and the full 100 kWth coal oxy-combustion was demonstrated. Heat flux measurements showed 400 kW/m2 (0.126 MMBtu/hr-ft2) from the flame, within the 450 kW/m2 (0.142 MMBtu/hr-ft2) preferred limit defined by DBL for the full-scale design case. Carbon monoxide and carbon-in-ash measurements showed that complete combustion was possible with ultra-low excess oxygen at 1 vol % in the product flue gas. This allowed the full-scale models to be calculated based on this level of excess oxygen, improving the performance of the system as lower feed oxygen is produced in the air separation unit (ASU), saving auxiliary power. Full-Scale Design: The full-scale design is sized to deliver 550 MWe net electrical power output to allow direct comparison with the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) baseline cases using the same Montana Powder River Basin (PRB) fuel. The cases used for direct comparison are: Case S12A (supercritical [SC] coal without CO2 capture), Case S12B (SC coal with PCC at 90% CO2 capture, and Case S12F (atmospheric oxy-combustion SC coal with 90% CO2 capture). The SPOC stages were configured to be identical arrangements, allowing for a more straightforward design, construction, and control strategy. Each stage consists of two PVs, the first being the combustor PV module and the second being the convective PV module. The combustor module is the tallest vessel, with local coal feeding equipment and the burner FGR and oxygen plenums at the top and ash management at the bottom. The combustor module is effectively an open cross section with membrane tubes around the circumference – this unobstructed slender profile ensures that the relatively slower burnout mechanism needed for the low-speed turbulent mixing burner can proceed unimpeded and that molten ash will not attach to any surfaces at an angle to the predominant flue gas flow. The steam turbine used in the SPOC design is essentially the same unit utilized in the atmospheric oxy-combustion case except the degree of heat recovery possible allows the low-pressure (LP) feedwater heater train to be eliminated. This is a result of being able to capture the latent heat of evaporation of the moisture produced in the combustion (normally lost to the stack). The SPOC system outperforms the NETL atmospheric oxy-combustion baseline case by 3.3% points and the PCC case by 7.5% points. This performance increase is mainly a result of the improved heat recovery possible from the product flue gas and from the reduced auxiliary power consumption from the ASU and the CO2 compression and purification unit over the atmospheric equivalent. The combined improvement in boiler efficiency and reduction in the steam turbine heat rate resulted in a net improvement in the overall plant efficiency by 0.61%, to 35.6% on a HHV basis. This relatively small improvement in plant efficiency between sub-bituminous and bituminous coals shows the value of useful moisture latent heat recovery offered by the SPOC system when using low rank fuels. Flexibility and Turndown: The SPOC system has inherent high turndown capabilities because of a demonstrated high range of combustion stability and the ability to bypass stages, thereby reducing steam generation rates proportionally without altering firing rates in operating stages. ASU units do not generally offer significant turndown opportunities as they are limited by the performance of the compression plant. The baseline SPOC design has a 2-train ASU configuration, needed to be able to meet the 10,500 tonnes per day duty, that can deliver efficient turndown points between 85–100% load with both trains operating, and at 45–50% load with a single train operating. Outside these operating points, the flexibility and efficiency are limited and may be uncompetitive at loads below 45% as the ASU systems are unable to turndown beyond 85% for the base case and 70% for the flexible case. The ASU cold box for the flexible case was designed to operate at loads between 40-100%, below this operating range the purity of the produced oxygen cannot be guaranteed, resulting in additional load for the CPU equipment. The additional power consumption of these cases yields an uneconomic operating condition with poor efficiency when operating at low loads such as 25% and 12%. To address this flexibility constraint, AL evaluated how the ASU configuration could be altered to deliver efficient oxygen supply over the load range. This involved integrating the compressor duties across both ASU trains into a shared duty arrangement with multiple compressors, strategically sized to deliver the duty required across all load ranges between 40–100% by enabling different combinations of the main air compressors and the booster air compressors. The oxygen purity cannot be guaranteed below 40% load for each train – the power consumption at 25% and 12% loads were estimated based on the multi-compressor configuration at maximum turndown as these load cases were not considered in the flexible ASU design. With a different cold box configuration, i.e. number of trains, the entire load range could be delivered within oxygen purity specifications. Although there is a small efficiency reduction at full load, there are significant improvements in overall plant performance during low-load operation. The exact ASU configuration needed will therefore be dependent on the expected operating profile of the unit. Economic Analysis: Cost estimates for the baseline and the flexible cases were developed using NETL baseline case data for common BOP items and an Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International Class 5 (conceptual/screening study) assessment of key components unique to the SPOC system. The capital, operating, and maintenance costs were assessed along with the first-year power cost, levelized cost of electricity, and CO2 captured and avoided cost for the SPOC cases were compared against the relevant NETL baseline cases in January 2019 dollars. Both SPOC cases achieve a lower cost that the alternative NETL baseline cases (with the flexible SPOC case being slightly higher than the baseline SPOC case due to the compounded impact of higher capital costs and lower efficiency at full load). The SPOC cases deliver a lower cost of CO2 avoided than the NETL baseline cases due to greater efficiency in generating low-carbon power. However, the cost of CO2 captured is higher because the higher efficiency of the SPOC process generates less CO2, hence less needs to be captured, resulting in a high capital cost being shared over a reduced CO2 quantity. The flexible ASU adds 1.6% overall to the plant cost in comparison to the baseline case, but the efficiency improvements at loads below 50% are significant. Subsequently, depending on the plant load-profile expectation, the flexible ASU would be beneficial if the plant spends a significant portion of its operating life below 50% load. This kind of operating profile is likely to be required for all fossil plants when more renewable electricity generators are installed on the local grid, particularly solar power that can be predicted ahead of time, allowing for appropriate pricing signals to be incorporated into the diurnal cycle. R&D Recommendations: SPOC, while a promising technology, is a relatively recent concept and, as such, operability issues of combustor design and steam-side integration for such systems at a scale relevant to commercial deployment have not been evaluated. WUSTL has conducted extensive small pilot-scale (100 kWth) research to understand and advance pressurized oxy-combustion processes, including investigation of combustion and flame characteristics, radiative heat flux, burner operability, turn down, char burnout, ash characteristics, water-wash column operation, etc. for pressurized oxy-combustion systems. Nonetheless, at this stage in the development of the SPOC process, what is needed is a large-scale pilot plant that can serve to study pressurized oxy-combustion systems and components at a scale commensurate with the maturity of the technology. A scale of 10 MWth, which includes steam-side integration and two stages would yield essential information with respect to heat transfer characteristics both in the radiative and convective sections of the pressure vessels, and the ability to operate the fuel staging process. In addition, while modeling results indicate that combustion and flame characteristics improve with scale, direct studies of the combustor at this scale will ensure that the models can be relied upon for scale up to commercial scale. Furthermore, a detailed analysis must be performed to understand the scaling aspects of key components and systems.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Electric Power Research Institute
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Fossil Energy (FE)
OSTI Identifier:
1545657
Report Number(s):
DOE-EPRI-29087-1
DOE Contract Number:  
FE0029087
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
20 FOSSIL-FUELED POWER PLANTS; Oxy-combustion, flexibility, SPOC

Citation Formats

Hume, Scott Alexander. Enabling Staged Pressurized Oxy-Combustion: Improving Flexibility and Performance at Reduced Cost. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.2172/1545657.
Hume, Scott Alexander. Enabling Staged Pressurized Oxy-Combustion: Improving Flexibility and Performance at Reduced Cost. United States. https://doi.org/10.2172/1545657
Hume, Scott Alexander. 2019. "Enabling Staged Pressurized Oxy-Combustion: Improving Flexibility and Performance at Reduced Cost". United States. https://doi.org/10.2172/1545657. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1545657.
@article{osti_1545657,
title = {Enabling Staged Pressurized Oxy-Combustion: Improving Flexibility and Performance at Reduced Cost},
author = {Hume, Scott Alexander},
abstractNote = {Introduction: The staged pressurized oxy-combustion (SPOC) process, developed by Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL), is an oxy-combustion carbon capture technology that employs a steam power cycle to generate electricity. As with atmospheric-pressure oxy-combustion processes, carbon dioxide (CO2) capture rates of 90% or higher can be achieved. The staged-combustion approach of the SPOC process, when operated at elevated gas pressure, allows for near elimination of flue gas recycle (FGR) and leads to significant improvements in efficiency and reduced costs. The primary goal of this project was to investigate the potential for SPOC for flexible operation beyond the capabilities of conventional coal-fired power plants, particularly those employing carbon capture and storage (CCS). Oxy-combustion differs from conventional coal combustion in that the combustion of coal is carried out using oxygen as opposed to air. The resultant flue gas is a mixture of primarily CO2 and water, greatly simplifying CO2 capture. As SPOC does the oxy-combustion process under pressure, it is higher efficiency and lower cost than atmospheric oxy-combustion. The project was led by the Electric Power Research Institute, Inc., with the assistance of WUSTL, Doosan Babcock (DBL – boiler plant original equipment manufacturer), and Air Liquide (AL – air separation experts). The specific objectives of the project were to: Evaluate the SPOC concept and develop a risk-based approach to the heating surface layout ensuring that performance (gas and steam side), manufacturing, transportation, and plant erection considerations were fully accounted for in the system design. Improve the technology to ensure its performance and cost potential are substantially better than today’s baseline pulverized coal power plant with post-combustion capture (PCC) or atmospheric oxy-combustion, and show progress toward performance commensurate with projected commercial operation, including 90% or more CO2 capture. Address critical technology gaps and improving overall system performance for the technology. Perform combustion tests at scale under commensurate pressure to the commercial operating system validate combustor and advance the SPOC combustion modeling tools that will facilitate full-scale design. Combustion Testing: Testing was initially carried out at atmospheric pressure with methane to ensure that all systems were correctly operating. Following this, the testing then proceeded to moderate pressure operation at 4 bara, where different stoichiometric conditions were used across an extended heat input range, showing that a stable flame could be maintained. Testing then proceeded at 10 and 15 bara where it was shown that the ignition system needed to be replaced at these operating conditions. When testing recommenced, a similar stable flame shape was achieved, without any methane support, and the full 100 kWth coal oxy-combustion was demonstrated. Heat flux measurements showed 400 kW/m2 (0.126 MMBtu/hr-ft2) from the flame, within the 450 kW/m2 (0.142 MMBtu/hr-ft2) preferred limit defined by DBL for the full-scale design case. Carbon monoxide and carbon-in-ash measurements showed that complete combustion was possible with ultra-low excess oxygen at 1 vol % in the product flue gas. This allowed the full-scale models to be calculated based on this level of excess oxygen, improving the performance of the system as lower feed oxygen is produced in the air separation unit (ASU), saving auxiliary power. Full-Scale Design: The full-scale design is sized to deliver 550 MWe net electrical power output to allow direct comparison with the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) baseline cases using the same Montana Powder River Basin (PRB) fuel. The cases used for direct comparison are: Case S12A (supercritical [SC] coal without CO2 capture), Case S12B (SC coal with PCC at 90% CO2 capture, and Case S12F (atmospheric oxy-combustion SC coal with 90% CO2 capture). The SPOC stages were configured to be identical arrangements, allowing for a more straightforward design, construction, and control strategy. Each stage consists of two PVs, the first being the combustor PV module and the second being the convective PV module. The combustor module is the tallest vessel, with local coal feeding equipment and the burner FGR and oxygen plenums at the top and ash management at the bottom. The combustor module is effectively an open cross section with membrane tubes around the circumference – this unobstructed slender profile ensures that the relatively slower burnout mechanism needed for the low-speed turbulent mixing burner can proceed unimpeded and that molten ash will not attach to any surfaces at an angle to the predominant flue gas flow. The steam turbine used in the SPOC design is essentially the same unit utilized in the atmospheric oxy-combustion case except the degree of heat recovery possible allows the low-pressure (LP) feedwater heater train to be eliminated. This is a result of being able to capture the latent heat of evaporation of the moisture produced in the combustion (normally lost to the stack). The SPOC system outperforms the NETL atmospheric oxy-combustion baseline case by 3.3% points and the PCC case by 7.5% points. This performance increase is mainly a result of the improved heat recovery possible from the product flue gas and from the reduced auxiliary power consumption from the ASU and the CO2 compression and purification unit over the atmospheric equivalent. The combined improvement in boiler efficiency and reduction in the steam turbine heat rate resulted in a net improvement in the overall plant efficiency by 0.61%, to 35.6% on a HHV basis. This relatively small improvement in plant efficiency between sub-bituminous and bituminous coals shows the value of useful moisture latent heat recovery offered by the SPOC system when using low rank fuels. Flexibility and Turndown: The SPOC system has inherent high turndown capabilities because of a demonstrated high range of combustion stability and the ability to bypass stages, thereby reducing steam generation rates proportionally without altering firing rates in operating stages. ASU units do not generally offer significant turndown opportunities as they are limited by the performance of the compression plant. The baseline SPOC design has a 2-train ASU configuration, needed to be able to meet the 10,500 tonnes per day duty, that can deliver efficient turndown points between 85–100% load with both trains operating, and at 45–50% load with a single train operating. Outside these operating points, the flexibility and efficiency are limited and may be uncompetitive at loads below 45% as the ASU systems are unable to turndown beyond 85% for the base case and 70% for the flexible case. The ASU cold box for the flexible case was designed to operate at loads between 40-100%, below this operating range the purity of the produced oxygen cannot be guaranteed, resulting in additional load for the CPU equipment. The additional power consumption of these cases yields an uneconomic operating condition with poor efficiency when operating at low loads such as 25% and 12%. To address this flexibility constraint, AL evaluated how the ASU configuration could be altered to deliver efficient oxygen supply over the load range. This involved integrating the compressor duties across both ASU trains into a shared duty arrangement with multiple compressors, strategically sized to deliver the duty required across all load ranges between 40–100% by enabling different combinations of the main air compressors and the booster air compressors. The oxygen purity cannot be guaranteed below 40% load for each train – the power consumption at 25% and 12% loads were estimated based on the multi-compressor configuration at maximum turndown as these load cases were not considered in the flexible ASU design. With a different cold box configuration, i.e. number of trains, the entire load range could be delivered within oxygen purity specifications. Although there is a small efficiency reduction at full load, there are significant improvements in overall plant performance during low-load operation. The exact ASU configuration needed will therefore be dependent on the expected operating profile of the unit. Economic Analysis: Cost estimates for the baseline and the flexible cases were developed using NETL baseline case data for common BOP items and an Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International Class 5 (conceptual/screening study) assessment of key components unique to the SPOC system. The capital, operating, and maintenance costs were assessed along with the first-year power cost, levelized cost of electricity, and CO2 captured and avoided cost for the SPOC cases were compared against the relevant NETL baseline cases in January 2019 dollars. Both SPOC cases achieve a lower cost that the alternative NETL baseline cases (with the flexible SPOC case being slightly higher than the baseline SPOC case due to the compounded impact of higher capital costs and lower efficiency at full load). The SPOC cases deliver a lower cost of CO2 avoided than the NETL baseline cases due to greater efficiency in generating low-carbon power. However, the cost of CO2 captured is higher because the higher efficiency of the SPOC process generates less CO2, hence less needs to be captured, resulting in a high capital cost being shared over a reduced CO2 quantity. The flexible ASU adds 1.6% overall to the plant cost in comparison to the baseline case, but the efficiency improvements at loads below 50% are significant. Subsequently, depending on the plant load-profile expectation, the flexible ASU would be beneficial if the plant spends a significant portion of its operating life below 50% load. This kind of operating profile is likely to be required for all fossil plants when more renewable electricity generators are installed on the local grid, particularly solar power that can be predicted ahead of time, allowing for appropriate pricing signals to be incorporated into the diurnal cycle. R&D Recommendations: SPOC, while a promising technology, is a relatively recent concept and, as such, operability issues of combustor design and steam-side integration for such systems at a scale relevant to commercial deployment have not been evaluated. WUSTL has conducted extensive small pilot-scale (100 kWth) research to understand and advance pressurized oxy-combustion processes, including investigation of combustion and flame characteristics, radiative heat flux, burner operability, turn down, char burnout, ash characteristics, water-wash column operation, etc. for pressurized oxy-combustion systems. Nonetheless, at this stage in the development of the SPOC process, what is needed is a large-scale pilot plant that can serve to study pressurized oxy-combustion systems and components at a scale commensurate with the maturity of the technology. A scale of 10 MWth, which includes steam-side integration and two stages would yield essential information with respect to heat transfer characteristics both in the radiative and convective sections of the pressure vessels, and the ability to operate the fuel staging process. In addition, while modeling results indicate that combustion and flame characteristics improve with scale, direct studies of the combustor at this scale will ensure that the models can be relied upon for scale up to commercial scale. Furthermore, a detailed analysis must be performed to understand the scaling aspects of key components and systems.},
doi = {10.2172/1545657},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/1545657}, journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {7}
}