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Reducing Coal CO2 Emissions with Chilled-Ammonia Technology

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coalThe coal based power plant located in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin in Kenosha County called Pleasant Prairie Power Plant has generated approximately 1,226 MW of electricity in 2006, being one of the largest generating stations in Wisconsin. Supplying 13% of Wisconsin’s energy, the plant was burning around 13,000 tons of coal daily, emitting a lot of carbon dioxide.

Luckily, the collaboration with a French company, called Alstom SA will probably change the impact on the environment the Pleasant Prairie Power Plant has. The experimental chilled-ammonia technology is able to separate and entrap carbon dioxide from the exhaust, making coal technology a clean one. The project started one year ago and final results have just been published. It looks like the project is a real success as it is able to entrap more than 90% of the emitted CO2.

Even though the test was made at a small scale (working on just 5% of the plant’s total power) it was run during 12 months, with non-stop hard work. But after the final results were published the scientists said that they are were optimistic that the chilled-ammonia technology would work on a large scale as well.

Alstrom plans its next step with higher demands of processing, not only from Co2 capturing point of view. They will start working with AEP in Columbus, Ohio to test a scaled-up version at the Mountaineer power plant in West Virginia which will also be able to bury the captured CO2 8,000 feet beneath the plant site.

Compared to others technologies, Alstom’s chilled ammonia process has a lower energy cost for capturing CO2. But they will not stop here, as scientists are currently working on another technique to capture carbon dioxide emissions from a gas plant.

The thing is that nowadays people seem to patch a wound that has increased too much. The perfect way would have been not to get here as we did, and we need to do something in order to protect our environment. Still, better act later than never!

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