Ribbon cut on state's first project to make coal plants cleaner

HARRODSBURG, Ky. (WKYT) - Governor Steve Beshear, state officials and energy company leaders cut the ribbon on the state's first megawatt-scale carbon capture pilot unit at Kentucky Utilities' E.W. Brown Generating Station, near Harrodsburg. The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research is helping KU with the project.

The project is called the carbon capture pilot system. Here's how it works, according to a press release from KU and the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research:

The system will operate by using a few sampling ports to redirect a portion of the flue gas just before the gas enters the stack. From the sampling port, the flue gas will move into modules where its interaction with a liquid solvent will extract CO2 from the flue gas. The resulting flue gas, now carrying less than 2 percent CO2, exits the absorber and returns to the stack. The liquid solvent carrying the removed CO2 is put through a two-stage process that boils off the carbon to produce a concentrated stream of CO2. The solvent is recycled to the absorber to process more flue gas. In commercial applications, the concentrated CO2 stream would then be compressed and piped for utilization or storage. In this "catch and release" research project, however, UK will perform detailed analyses of each process, then reintroduce the concentrated CO2 stream into the flue gas.

The project is made possible by $14.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy Technology Laboratory and cost-share funding UK, the Kentucky Department of Energy Development and Independence, the Carbon Management Research Group (CMRG) utility members, and project team members including the Electric Power Research Institute and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems America.

Construction on the carbon capture pilot system is expected to be completed in the fall. The testing period will follow shortly. Researchers expect to have their key discoveries after testing is finished in mid-2016.

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