Gas-fired power has substantial environmental benefits over fossil fuels, and NET Power’s pilot plant located in Texas is set to herald a new future for natural gas. NET Power aims to achieve the production of electricity from natural gas with zero carbon footprint.
This groundbreaking technology is based on using a thermodynamic cycle called the Allam-Fetvedt Cycle (a.k.a. Allam Cycle), which is a high-pressure, oxy-fuel, supercritical CO2 cycle. The process involves burning fossil fuel with oxygen to generate electricity without emitting carbon dioxide (CO2).
It avoids generating NOx (nitrogen oxides), which are the main atmospheric and health contaminants emitted from gas plants. Allam Cycle generates low-cost electricity from fossil fuels and produces near-zero air emissions. The power plant involved in the process is a lot smaller, which means that it could be set up in more areas than older plants.
Investors & Partners
The Texas plant has many investors and partners including Exelon Generation (plant operations), 8 Rivers Capital, the inventor of the NET Power technology (Research and development), the infrastructure firm McDermott International (formerly CB&I) (engineering and construction), Toshiba (combustor, CO2-turbine, and additional development), and Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum (investor).
How the Allam Cycle Plant Works
At the Allam Cycle plant, the natural gas is burned as oxy-combustion. The plant is said to use a standard cryogenic air separation unit, which generates oxygen, integrating the heat of the unit. The process generates a working fluid, which is expanded through a turbine and cooled in a heat exchanger (a.k.a. recuperator). The key is the turning of the turbine with CO2 not steam. Meanwhile, the NET Power plant keeps the heat within the system, which means less fuel is required for the turbine to reach the necessary operating temperature.
Adam Goff, Policy Director for NET Power, highlighted how the technology could be used to reduce the impact of global warming, especially in developing countries mainly in Asia and Africa. But to do that the technology has to be really cheap so one can achieve cost parity with conventional generation. In this context, the cost of electricity generated by NET Power could be very interesting.