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Department of Energy Invests $5.9 Million in Projects to Advance Novel CO2 Utilization Strategies

The U.S. Energy Department’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE) has selected seven projects to receive $5.9 million to focus on novel ways to use carbon dioxide (CO2) captured from coal-fired power plants.  In addition to federal funding, each project will also include non-federal cost share of at least 20 percent.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a commodity chemical used in many commercial applications, such as enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and production of chemicals, fuels, and other products.

The selected research projects will directly support FE’s Carbon Storage program’s Carbon Use and Reuse research and development portfolio.  This portfolio will develop and test novel approaches that convert CO2 captured from coal-fired power plants to useable products.  The projects will also explore ways to use captured CO2 in areas where high-volume uses, like enhanced oil recovery, may not be optimal or the use could partially offset the cost of carbon capture technologies.

The seven funded projects fall under three technical areas of interest: (1) biological-based concepts for beneficial use of CO2, (2) mineralization concepts utilizing CO2 with industrial wastes, and (3) novel physical and chemical processes for beneficial use of CO2.

Project descriptions follow.

Area of Interest 1: Biological-Based Concepts for Beneficial Use of CO2

CO2 to Bioplastics: Beneficial Re-Use of Carbon Emissions from Coal-Fired Power Plants Using Microalgae The University of Kentucky Research Foundation (Lexington, KY) will develop a process to convert CO2 from coal-fired flue gas using microalgae-based CO2 capture, with subsequent conversion of the resulting algal biomass to bioplastics, chemicals, and fuels. The team will investigate a combined photobioreactor/pond cultivation process to decrease the cost of algae cultivation while developing a strategy to maximize value from the algal biomass. Cost: DOE: $999,833; Non-DOE: $256,960; Total Funding: $1,256,793

Area of Interest 2: Mineralization Concepts Utilizing CO2 with Industrial Wastes

Upcycled “CO2 Negative” Concrete for Construction Functions The University of California, (Los Angeles, CA) will develop and evaluate a process that uses coal combustion and iron/steel processing wastes as raw materials for carbon mineralization to produce a construction material with mechanical properties that are at least comparable to traditional Portland cement-based concrete. The process design seeks to minimize the extrinsic energy demand by utilizing coal-derived flue gas as a heat transfer fluid to facilitate calcium hydroxide precipitation. Cost: DOE: $999,999; Non-DOE: $350,000; Total Funding: $1,349,999

Area of Interest 3: Novel Physical and Chemical Processes for Beneficial Use of Carbon

Electrochemical Conversion of Carbon Dioxide to Alcohols The University of Delaware (Newark, DE) will develop and test a two-stage electrolyzer process for the conversion of flue gas-derived CO2 to C2/C3 alcohols, such as ethanol and propanol. The two-stage process consists of a CO2 electrolyzer to produce carbon monoxide (CO), which is subsequently converted to liquid C2/C3 alcohols in a CO electrolyzer.  Cost: DOE: $800,000; Non-DOE: $200,000; Total Funding: $1,000,000

High Energy Systems for Transforming CO2 to Valuable Products The Gas Technology Institute (Des Plaines, IL) will develop a Direct E-Beam Synthesis process to produce valuable chemicals, such as acetic acid, methanol, and CO from CO2 captured from a coal-fired power plant. The process uses high-energy electron beams to break chemical bonds, allowing the production of desired chemicals at mild conditions. Cost: DOE: $799,997; Non-DOE: $206,000; Total Funding: $1,005,997

Nano-Engineered Catalyst Supported on Ceramic Hollow Fibers for the Utilization of CO2 in Dry Reforming to Produce Syngas The Gas Technology Institute (Des Plaines, IL) will develop a novel catalytic reactor process to convert CO2 captured from a coal-fired power plant into methane, which will be dry reformed to produce syngas. The catalytic reactor consists of nano-engineered catalysts, developed specifically for dry reforming, deposited on high packing density hollow fibers. Cost: DOE: $799,807; Non-DOE: $200,736; Total Funding: $1,000,543

A New Process for CO2 Conversion to Fuel TDA Research, Inc. (Wheat Ridge, CO) will develop a sorbent-based, thermo-catalytic process to convert CO2 captured from flue gas into syngas. The team will focus on the development and optimization of a mixed metal-oxide sorbent to directly reduce CO2 to CO. Cost: DOE: $799,985; Non-DOE: $200,015; Total Funding: $1,000,000

Low Temperature Process Utilizing Nano-Engineered Catalyst for Olefin Production from Coal-Derived Flue Gas Southern Research (Atlanta, GA) will develop a process to produce light olefins, such as ethylene and propylene, from coal-fired flue gas using novel nano-engineered catalysts. The team will evaluate multiple catalyst compositions and operating conditions to determine the optimal process configuration for maximizing olefin production. Cost: DOE: $799,442; Non-DOE: $200,418; Total Funding: $999,860


The Office of Fossil Energy funds research, development, and demonstration projects to further the sustainable use of the Nation’s fossil resources. To learn more about the programs within the Office of Fossil Energy, visit our website or sign up for FE news announcements. To learn more about the Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, visit the NETL website.

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