US Department Of Energy Awards $64 Million For Carbon Capture Research

Wyoming Integrated Test Center and The Wyoming Innovation Center

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has approved $64 million to two tenants of the Wyoming Integrated Test Center (ITC) for their research on large-scale pilot carbon capture projects.

The DOE awarded Membrane Technology and Research (MTR) $51,699,939 for its research.

The process that MTR is employing at the research site is called PolarCap and it is based on a polymeric membrane dubbed Polaris, which is the first commercial membrane developed specifically for CO2 capture applications.

The membrane works by performing a passive separation of CO2 using a difference in pressures provided by blowers and pumps.

“Unlike amine-based capture processes which require large amounts of steam to strip CO2 from loaded solvent, MTR’s capture process is driven entirely by electricity,” the group said in a media statement. “Membrane skids are compact and modular which enables capture systems to be fit into existing plants with little available space.”

MTR will work on two design variations for coal-fired power plants; one for high CO2 removal rates (90 percent) and a second for partial capture rates (~60 percent).

“I am delighted that Membrane Technology and Research has been selected to move forward in this process, and that Wyoming has been chosen to host this important demonstration of cutting edge carbon capture technology,” Gov. Mark Gordon said in a news release. “This is exactly the type of research that was envisioned when the ITC was developed and Wyoming will continue to support these efforts.”

The ITC, a carbon capture utilization and storage testing facility is connected to the Dry Fork Station power plant near Gillette, WY. Five percent of the exhaust gas from the Dry Fork coal-fired plant goes into a manifold system, providing ‘plug and play’ access for researchers.

The announcement comes weeks after winners were announced for the Carbon XPRIZE competition, where two teams — CarbonBuilt operating out of the Integrated Test Center and CarbonCure out of Alberta, Canada — split a $15 million cash prize after the five-year project.

“We could not be more thrilled for MTR and we are excited to welcome them onsite as they start working on this next phase of testing,” Jason Begger, managing director of the Integrated Test Center, said in a statement. “At this scale, we will be able to demonstrate carbon capture technology at a sufficient level to demonstrate to utilities the next step can be a commercial version.”

Wyoming has doubled down with support for the coal industry and is banking on carbon capture to help keep coal production going by restricting the amount of carbon dioxide and other pollutants released into the air, the Casper Star Tribune reported.

CarbonBuilt was awarded $7.5 million for its work on using flue gas from power plants or cement factories into concrete mixtures, reducing the carbon footprint of cement by 50 percent.

CarbonCure was also awarded $7.5 million in the Alberta, Canada, track of the contest for its work with concrete technology.

Later this year, the Integrated Test Center plans to start a $16 million project, according to Begger, and a collaboration project with Japan and Kawasaki Heavy Industries.