The U.S. Department of Energy today announced that sales of the "low-NOx concentric firing system" (LNCFS™), first pioneered in 1992-92 as part of the federal Clean Coal Technology Program, now top $1 billion.
Results show the system is reducing nitrogen oxides, NOx, by nearly 40 percent in older coal burning plants. NOx is one of the air pollutants that contributes to smog, ground-level ozone, and acid rain.
According to data compiled by the Energy Department's National Energy Technology Laboratory, 56,000 megawatts of electricity are now being generated in the United States by power plants equipped with the high-tech burner.
"Advances in clean coal technology allow us to use America's abundant coal reserves more efficiently and, at the same time, protect the quality of our environment.
America's clean coal technology program will be an important part of the Administration's comprehensive national energy plan, along with significant investments for clean coal technologies the President will submit as part of the Administration's budget," said Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham.
Coal currently accounts for more than 52 percent of the electricity produced in the United States.
The Bush Administration's budget proposal, outlined this week by the President, will include support for further clean coal technology advances as one of the core features of its energy program.
The advanced burner was first installed in 1992 by Alstom Power Inc., formerly ABB Combustion Engineering, on Gulf Power Company's Plant Lansing Smith in Lynn Haven, Florida.
The Energy Department paid for 49 percent of the project's total $8.6 million cost, which included 19 months of test operations.
The project was carried out jointly with Southern Company Services, the technology arm of The Southern Company which owns the Lynn Haven power plant.
The project was one of 40 demonstrations of first-of-a-kind technologies jointly funded by the Energy Department, industry and states in the Clean Coal Technology Program. The program began in the mid-1980s as a way to address concerns over acid rain.
The advanced firing system blows air in a circle around a circular coal flame – the "circle-within-a-circle arrangement is the reason why the burner is called "concentric."
Most of the coal burns in the inner zone where the amount of fuel greatly exceeds the available air. In this "fuel-rich" condition, nitrogen impurities released from the coal and the air have less of a chance of combining with oxygen to form NOx. As a result, NOx emissions are reduced by as much as 37 percent compared to older coal burners.
Emissions can be lowered even more by combining the advanced burner with another innovation demonstrated in the Clean Coal Technology project.
After the initial burner was tested, engineers installed separate air nozzles several feet above the main firing zone to create an "overfire air" zone.
The combination of the burner and separate "overfire air" reduces NOx by an average of 45 percent.
The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments required coal-fired electric utilities to install pollution control technologies to reduce NOx emissions.
Today, 32,500 megawatts of coal-burning capacity in the United States are outfitted with the LNCFS™ burner and another 23,500 megawatts use the combined burner and separate overfire air system.
Prospects are good that commercial use of the advanced coal burner will continue to grow. According to the National Energy Technology Laboratory, there are some 423 power plants in the country that have boilers suitable for the new technology.
Source: United States Energy Information Administration.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)