TDA hopeful to complete ITC testing in spring

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a cause for pause for one tenant at the Wyoming Integrated Test Center (ITC) near Gillette, Wyoming, and all parties involved are hoping to see their testing resume this spring or summer. Basin Electric’s Dry Fork Station serves as host for the ITC, where researchers test carbon capture utilization and sequestration technologies. The ITC is one of only a handful of facilities in the world operating at an active power plant.

The ITC’s first tenant, TDA Research, made significant progress in testing its carbon capture technology, even during pandemic restrictions through mid-2020. However, the pandemic has paused the remainder of its testing.

TDA arrived on site in October 2019 to test a novel hybrid carbon capture system, which incorporates membrane and solid sorbent technologies to remove carbon dioxide from flue gas. The membrane removes about half of the carbon dioxide, with the remaining carbon dioxide being removed, or absorbed, by the sorbent. The sorbent is regenerable, meaning that it can be repeatedly used to process flue gas.

Dave Gribble, TDA Research senior scientist, said although they completed a test campaign with their large demonstration system in 2020, they have another system at the Wyoming ITC they hope to test in spring 2021. “This system is a smaller unit that allows us to screen and test new sorbent materials at smaller scales. Having an opportunity to run this system at the Wyoming ITC with coal-derived flue gas from the Dry Fork Station is a huge benefit, as it allows us to see how the materials perform under real-world conditions. The field test with real flue gas will be an excellent complement to all of our laboratory work with synthetic flue gas,” he said.

Researchers like TDA have access to megawatts of carbon dioxide through scrubbed flue gas diverted from the Dry Fork Station. Nolan Bray, plant engineer at Dry Fork Station, said Basin Electric was pleased with what it saw of TDA’s carbon capture technology. “It was obvious from the start they had put their time in during the design stage, and the testing went as planned,” he said.

“I think it’s vital for us to develop and commercialize clean coal technology so we can continue to offer low-cost electricity,” Bray said. “I’m grateful to work with a company that sees the benefit of putting resources into research and development.”

Jason Begger, managing director of the ITC, said looking into 2021, ITC site utilization will be somewhat dependent upon how the COVID-19 situation unfolds. “We are hopeful we will see Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries' carbon capture test in late 2021. In 2020, Gas Technology Institute (GTI) received a major grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to test a membrane carbon capture system at the ITC, and we hope to see them starting to arrive onsite later this year,” he said.

During 2020, two of the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE teams were able to fully complete their tests at the ITC. In January 2021, Membrane Technology and Research (MTR) and the University of Kentucky applied for large pilot project grants that would provide more than $50 million each to construct large carbon capture systems. “We are hopeful that we'll receive DOE’s decision early this summer,” Begger said. If awarded, these projects would likely be onsite in late 2022 or early 2023.

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