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Review of Doe’s Vision 21 Research and Development Program—Phase I 1 Introduction The Vision 21 Program is a relatively new research and development (R&D) program, which is funded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Fossil Energy and its National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). Planning for the program began in 1998-1999, and a workshop was held in August 2000 to develop technology roadmaps for each of the key technologies. Currently, the Vision 21 Program per se is not a line item in the Office of Fossil Energy budget but is a collection of projects and activities that contribute to the technologies required for advanced Vision 21 energy plants. The program is focused on the development of advanced technologies for deployment beginning in 2015. Vision 21 facilities would be able to convert fossil fuels (e.g., coal, natural gas, and petroleum coke) into electricity, fuels, and/or chemicals with very high efficiency and very low emissions, including of the greenhouse gas CO2. With the dominance of fossil fuels in powering the U.S. economy, especially that of coal in the electricity sector, and their projected growth in the United States and worldwide, the need for technologies that utilize fossil fuels in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner is a high priority. As noted in the Vision 21 Technology Roadmap, if the program meets its goals, it will essentially remove many of the environmental concerns traditionally associated with the use of fossil fuels for producing electricity and transportation fuels or chemicals (NETL, 2001). The use of fossil fuels as a possible pathway to producing hydrogen is also in keeping with the growing interest of DOE in supporting the development of technologies for hydrogen production and use. This report contains the results of the second National Research Council (NRC) review of the Vision 21 R&D Program. The first review of the program was conducted by the NRC Committee on R&D Opportunities for Advanced
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Review of Doe’s Vision 21 Research and Development Program—Phase I Fossil-Fueled Energy Complexes, which resulted in the report Vision 21, Fossil Fuel Options for the Future, published in the spring of 2000 (NRC, 2000). At that time the Vision 21 Program was in a relatively embryonic stage, having been initiated by DOE in 1998-1999. The NRC report contained a number of recommendations for DOE to consider as it moved forward with its program; DOE’s responses to many of these recommendations are considered in Chapter 3. Now, 2 years after the first review, DOE’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Coal and Power Systems requested that the NRC review progress and activities in the Vision 21 Program. In response, the NRC formed the Committee to Review DOE’s Vision 21 R&D Program—Phase I. Most of its members also served on the committee that wrote the earlier report (see Appendix A for committee biographical information). Many details of the program were covered in that report and will not be repeated here. It is anticipated that the committee will conduct reviews of the Vision 21 Program on a regular basis. As noted in DOE’s Vision 21 Program Plan and the Vision 21 Technology Roadmap, Vision 21 is a new initiative for developing the technologies necessary for ultraclean, fossil-fuel-based energy plants that will be ready for deployment in 2015 (DOE, 1999a; NETL, 2001). It is envisioned that technology modules will be selected and configured to produce the desired products from the feedstocks (e.g., coal, natural gas, petroleum coke and, where appropriate, opportunity feedstocks such as refinery wastes or biomass) (NETL, 2001). The key technologies under development are identified in the Vision 21 Technology Roadmap and reviewed here in Chapter 3: Gasification, Gas purification, Gas separation, Fuel cells, Turbines, Environmental control, Controls and sensors, Materials, Modeling, simulation, and analysis,1 Synthesis gas conversion to fuels and chemicals, and Advanced coal combustion.2 1 The Vision 21 Technology Roadmap breaks out two areas: (1) computational modeling and virtual simulation and (2) systems analysis and integration, which the committee has combined into one area for the purposes of this report. 2 The Vision 21 Technology Roadmap identifies the area as combustion and high-temperature heat exchange; the committee has chosen to focus on advanced coal combustion.
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Review of Doe’s Vision 21 Research and Development Program—Phase I For example, coal (along with other feedstocks) might be gasified to create synthesis gas (syngas, a mixture of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2)); H2 might be separated from the syngas for use in fuels cells to generate electricity; fuels and/or chemicals might also be synthesized from the syngas; and waste heat from the fuel cell might be used to produce electricity using steam turbines. It is envisioned by DOE that once technology modules are developed, vendors will be able to combine advanced technologies in configurations tailored to meet specific market needs. To support this integration effort, DOE is developing a modeling and simulation capability intended to reduce the risks and costs of building Vision 21 plants. While DOE also acknowledges the importance of demonstration projects to confirm component and system capabilities, the Vision 21 Program does not include funds to carry out large-scale demonstrations. Such projects would have to be funded and implemented outside the Vision 21 Program. GOALS AND TARGETS As noted above, the ultimate goal of Vision 21 is to create ultraclean, fossil-fuel-based energy plants with high efficiency. It is also anticipated that most of these plants will be sequestration ready, i.e., the CO2 resulting from the fossil fuel conversion will be available for capture and sequestration. (At the current time, the activities related to sequestration science and engineering, e.g., geologic or ocean disposal, are carried on in a separate DOE program.) Specifically, the Vision 21 energy plant performance targets are as follows (NETL, 2001): Efficiency for electricity generation: 60 percent for coal-based systems (based on higher heating value (HHV)); 75 percent for natural-gas-based systems (based on lower heating value (LHV) or 68 percent based on HHV). These efficiencies exclude consideration of the energy required for CO2 capture. Efficiency for a fuels-only plant: 75 percent feedstock utilization efficiency (LHV) when producing fuels such as H2 or liquid transportation fuels alone from coal. These efficiencies exclude consideration of the energy required for CO2 capture. Environmental: atmospheric release of Less than 0.01 lb/million British thermal units (MMBtu) sulfur and nitrogen oxides; less than 0.005 lb/MMBtu particulate matter; Less than one-half of the emission rates for organic compounds listed in the Utility HAPS Report (EPA, 1998);3 Less than l lb/trillion Btu mercury; and 40-50 percent reduction of CO2 emissions by efficiency improvement, essentially 100 percent reduction with sequestration. 3 HAP, hazardous air pollutant.
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Review of Doe’s Vision 21 Research and Development Program—Phase I Costs: aggressive targets for capital and operating costs and for reliability, availability, and maintenance. Products of Vision 21 plants must be cost-competitive with other energy systems having comparable environmental performance, including specific carbon emissions. Timing: major benefits from improved technologies begin by 2005. Designs for most Vision 21 subsystems and modules available by 2012; Vision 21 commercial plant designs available by 2015. Vision 21 plants will probably be large, stand-alone central station facilities or integrated with industrial or commercial operations. The Vision 21 Technology Roadmap also notes that small, distributed power generation is not considered to be part of Vision 21, although spin-off technologies from Vision 21 may be applicable to distributed generation, and Vision 21 plants could be designed as an integral part of a distributed power concept (NETL, 2001). MANAGEMENT APPROACH AND BUDGET Planning for the Vision 21 Program and associated activities takes place at workshops that involve the Office of Fossil Energy and the NETL, other DOE offices, the national laboratories, state and local governments, universities, and private industry. Working relationships are being created with a number of organizations outside DOE and NETL. According to the Vision 21 Technology Roadmap, NETL also plans to issue a series of competitive solicitations, create consortia, and develop cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs) and other agreements (NETL, 2001). An initial Vision 21 solicitation was issued on September 30, 1999, resulting in three rounds of awards comprising 15 new projects.4 Additional projects have resulted from other solicitations in various technology product areas in the Office of Fossil Energy. The Vision 21 Program contains projects arising not only from the solicitation noted above, but also from ongoing activities in the traditional R&D program areas in the Office of Fossil Energy. Ongoing activities that are oriented toward achieving revolutionary rather than evolutionary improvements in performance and cost and that share common objectives with Vision 21 are considered to be part of Vision 21 activities. Vision 21 projects must contribute to the technology base needed to design Vision 21 energy plants. Thus, the Vision 21 Program per se is not a line item in the Office of Fossil Energy budget but rather a collection of projects that contribute to the technologies required to realize Vision 21 energy plants, and the program must be coordinated across the suite of activities in DOE/ NETL programs contained in the Office of Fossil Energy’s R&D programs on coal and power systems. This coordination is partially achieved through a matrix 4 L. Ruth, NETL, “Vision 21—Overview,” Presentation to the committee on May 20, 2002.
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Review of Doe’s Vision 21 Research and Development Program—Phase I management structure at NETL. The Vision 21 team works with NETL product managers, DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy headquarters, industry, universities, and others to provide coordination for the program. The estimated budget for Vision 21 activities was about $50 million for FY 2002; the FY 2003 request to Congress is estimated to have been about $65 million.5 STATEMENT OF TASK The statement of task for the committee was as follows: The NRC committee appointed to conduct this study will review the Vision-21 program on an annual basis. It will receive presentations from DOE on progress in the program, R&D directions and initiatives that are being taken, DOE’s strategy for the deployment of technologies coming from Vision 21 (including special attention to coal-intensive developing countries where the market is likely to be), and plans for further efforts. Depending on the extent to which the DOE carbon sequestration program is connected to Vision 21 efforts, the committee may also review progress on sequestration and associated costs. Based on its review, the committee will write a short report with recommendations, as appropriate, that it believes will help DOE to meet the ambitious and challenging goals in the Vision-21 program. The committee’s continued involvement could provide periodic guidance to DOE that would sharpen Vision 21 efforts and hasten the realization of its goals. It is also envisioned that DOE may ask the committee from time to time to address additional tasks related to the Vision 21 program. If so, a statement of task would have to be developed between the NRC and DOE, and additional funding necessary to undertake the additional task will be requested from DOE. The latter part of the statement of task was not considered during this review, since DOE did not ask the committee to address additional tasks. The committee held two meetings. The first entailed a series of presentations by program managers on the various aspects of the Vision 21 Program, as well as some presentations from technical experts working in the private sector. The second listened to additional presentations, as necessary (see Appendix B). The committee also formulated a set of written questions about the Vision 21 Program to DOE and NETL staff as another means of collecting information, as well as reviewing the technical literature: NETL staff provided written answers to the committee’s questions. The committee also worked in closed sessions at its meetings to formulate its conclusions and recommendations and to draft its report. ORGANIZATION OF THE REPORT Chapter 1 provides a brief background to the Vision 21 Program and the purpose of the current review and study; the reader is urged to consult the previ- 5 Ibid.
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Review of Doe’s Vision 21 Research and Development Program—Phase I ous committee report, as well as DOE documents, for further details (DOE, 1999a, b, c; DOE, 2002b; NETL, 2001; NRC, 2000). Chapter 2 presents the committee’s key strategic recommendations for the Vision 21 Program as a whole. In it, the committee has tried to keep its recommendations to a minimum to focus the attention of DOE and NETL on key critical issues. Finally, Chapter 3 addresses each of the technology areas under development in the Vision 21 Program. Those familiar with the committee report issued in 2000 will note that at that time, Vision 21 distinguished between “enabling” technologies and “supporting” technologies, a distinction that has been removed from the program and is not reflected in the current report. The appendixes present committee members’ biographical information (Appendix A) and activities of the committee to collect information (Appendix B).
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