small amount of coal present in the bed at any one time cause good heat transfer throughout the bed material, and the resulting bed temperature is relatively low, about 800 °C to 900 °C (1470 °F to 1650 °F). The fluidization and relatively low bed temperature enhance the capture of SO2 emitted during combustion and retard the formation of NOx. The features of in-bed capture of SO2 and relatively low NOX emissions, plus the fluid bed's capacity to combust a range of different fuels, are the main attractions of FBC as a power generation technology. Under some operating conditions, AFBC units also may produce higher levels of organic compounds, some of which may be potential air toxics. Current studies also indicate that AFBC units emit higher levels of N2O—a greenhouse gas—than other combustion systems (Takeshita, 1994).
AFBC technology has been in commercial use worldwide for well over 50 years, primarily in the petrochemical industry and in small industrial steam generators that are a tenth to a hundredth the size of commercial power plant generators. In the United States, development of AFBC technology began in 1965, when DOE contracted for development of a low-cost, industrial-sized AFBC unit. AFBC development in the U.S. power generation sector began in the early 1980s, with support from the private sector, including EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute), and DOE. A 20-MW bubbling bed AFBC unit was constructed and operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority and EPRI beginning in 1980 and concluded in 1987. During this same period, four AFBC demonstration projects ranging in size from 80 to 160 MW were implemented as either retrofits or repowering of an existing unit. As a result of these demonstrations and similar installations abroad, AFBC technology became commercial by the end of the 1980s for industrial steam generation, cogeneration, and utility-scale applications.
The next generation of FBC technology operates at pressures typically 10 to 15 times higher than atmospheric pressure. Operation in this manner allows the pressurized gas stream from a pressurized fluidized-bed combustion (PFBC) unit to be cleaned and fed to a gas turbine. The exhaust gas from the turbine is then passed through a heat recovery boiler to produce steam. The steam from the PFBC unit and that from the heat recovery boiler are then fed to a steam turbine. This combined-cycle mode of operation significantly increases PFBC system efficiency over the AFBC systems. If the PFBC unit exhaust gas can be cleaned sufficiently without reducing its temperature (i.e., by using hot gas cleanup systems), additional cycle efficiency can be achieved.
Development of PFBC has been under way since 1969, when the British Coal Utilization Research Association began operating a PFBC test unit at Leatherhead, England. A significant portion of the test work conducted there over the next 15 years was supported by EPA, DOE, and the U.S. private sector. In the early 1980s a number of other PFBC test and pilot facilities were constructed in the United States and Europe. The United States, the United Kingdom, and the Federal Republic of Germany under the auspices of the International Energy