Monessen, PA, Jan. 23, 2006 — An international technology pact, reinforced by support from the State of Pennsylvania, is enabling PFBC Environmental Energy Technology Inc. (PFBC-EET) to introduce clean-coal innovations that conform to the U.S. Energy Policy Act signed into law last summer.
PFBC-EET develops power-generation systems for North American utilities, building on technology originated by the Swedish divisions of the international engineering firms ALSTOM Power and Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery. PFBC stands for pressurized fluidized bed combined-cycle, a clean-burning power generation approach that can accept plentiful, wet, low-grade fuels such as coal-mine waste.
“The energy legislation couldn’t have been timed better,” PFBC-EET president Doug Farnham said. He explained that PFBC technology will make it possible to reach the Act’s 2020 clean-power goals as early as 2010.
In the next several years, Farnham said, PFBC systems will upgrade aging power stations to bring them into line with environmental restrictions.
According to Farnham, PFBC technology is an improved approach to upgrading environmental performance in aging power plants. Plant operators usually find that adding conventional environmental controls reduces efficiency, power output and revenue. At the same time, fuel consumption and carbon dioxide “greenhouse gas” emissions tend to increase, while the range of fuels that the plant can burn becomes narrower.
Closely timed with this summer’s Energy Policy Act, the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority (PEDA) last July presented a $1,000,000 grant to PFBC-EET and awarded a second $640,000 grant on January 11, 2006.
With their alliance partners, including CONSOL Energy Inc., Nooter/Eriksen, Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery, Farnham & Pfile Construction Inc., the U.S. Department of Energy, the Pennsylvania State University, and Prep Tech, PFBC-EET is constructing a Process Test Facility (PTF) at CONSOL’s R & D facility in Library, PA. Starting in mid-2006, the PTF will produce data essential for developing clean coal power generation projects, according to Farnham.
Initial trials, he said, will burn wet coal “fines” from Pennsylvania impoundments, a development that will facilitate land reclamation and, in effect, turn mountains of waste into a valuable stockpile of fuel.
Four innovations make the PFBC system attractive, Farnham explained. First, it burns plentiful low-quality, wet waste coal. Second, it operates at low temperatures and high pressure, producing a benign ash. Third, it uses a “sorbent” materialï¿½such as safe, readily available limestoneï¿½to capture sulfur oxides. And fourth, its “combined-cycle” design captures energy, which increases the net plant efficiency compared to ordinary systems by using steam turbines, powered by waste heat from gas turbine exhaust gases, in addition to the PFBC steam generator. The result is that net plant output rises by approximately 20 percent with PFBC combined-cycle technology. As a bonus, PFBC eliminates thermally generated nitrous oxides and reduces sulfur dioxide gases without add-on pollution controls.