• Chemical looping combustion technology moves a step closer

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

The US National Energy Technology Laboratory has demonstrated chemical looping combustion (CLC) technology employing an oxygen carrier using low cost minerals with a ten-fold increase in durability compared to previous iterations. CLC has the ability to simplify carbon capture from coal and gas-fired power plants, and as such is seen as a promising technology for the future use of fossil fuels. Combustion takes place in the presence of near pure-oxygen, but the concept differs from oxy-combustion in that fuel and air do not mix. Oxygen is produced internal to the process at temperatures between 800 and 1000oC, too low to produce thermal NOx. Two fluidized bed reactors are the usual set-up for the process, utilizing an oxygen carrier such as solid metal oxide or limestone. An air reactor oxidizes the oxygen carrier, which then delivers the oxygen to the fuel. At the moment, the technology is still at the lab-scale phase, and it is not until 2027 that the first commercial project is expected to be up and running. Still, the improvement in durability is a significant step along the development pipeline, and will buoy the researchers at NETL, who have a 2020 deadline to decide on the technical feasibility of the technology.