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Vision 21: Fossil Fuel Options for the Future
such as ultra-supercritical steam cycles, pressurized fluidized-bed combustion, and other near-term (2000–2015) technologies.
Finding. The Vision 21 Program does not have a well defined structure for linking its long-term technology development program to three significant neighboring domains: near-term (pre-2015) technology development, commercialization, and basic research programs.
Recommendation. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) should develop mechanisms to link Vision 21 with basic science and engineering research programs in and beyond DOE. DOE should also coordinate its activities related to the domestic and international commercialization and deployment of Vision 21 technologies.
Finding. Carbon management is a critical program objective of Vision 21. In the design of the program, in-plant carbon management (efficiency improvements, carbon capture, and separation) is distinguished from beyond-plant carbon management (the transport and sequestration of separated carbon). The program boundary of Vision 21, however, clearly excludes beyond-plant carbon management, which is in a separate program. The boundary for in-plant carbon management is ambiguous, however. ''Revolutionary" carbon dioxide capture and sequestration are within Vision 21 boundary, but "evolutionary" carbon dioxide capture and sequestration are not.
Recommendation. All research and development (both revolutionary and evolutionary) related to in-plant carbon management should be part of the Vision 21 Program, with most of the effort focused on revolutionary approaches for capturing and separating carbon dioxide.
Finding. Vision 21 recognizes the importance of managing criteria air pollutants (e.g., oxides of sulfur and nitrogen, and particulates) and air toxics and sets a goal of "near-zero" emissions for these pollutants from Vision 21 plants. An additional goal of the program is to eliminate all solid and liquid discharges by converting them into marketable products.
Recommendation. Vision 21 should define specific emissions goals for eliminating environmental pollutants from Vision 21 plants, including a precise definition of the "near-zero" emissions. Integrated plant designs should include processing of periodic wastes, such as spent catalysts, saturated absorbents, contaminated solvents, and water-treatment sludge. In keeping with its industrial ecological approach, the U.S. Department of Energy should assess whether "eliminating environmental concerns" is an achievable goal.