Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Zero Emission Plant

In today's Sacramento Bee, Dan Weintraub elaborates on that carbon sequestration project in Kern County that we posted on a couple of weeks ago.

The 50 MW plant being constructed by Clean Energy Systems is doing a lot more than just trapping CO2 emissions underground, it is using advanced aerospace engineering to to create a plant that emits zero NOx emissions:

"But the idea of using pure oxygen rather than air in the power plant is at the center of the CES project. Air is 80 percent nitrogen. When you combine it with a fuel source during combustion, you get nitrogen oxide, or NOx. That's a primary ingredient in the smog that clouds the sky in every major city.

To avoid that outcome, the CES plant chills the air until the oxygen and nitrogen gases become liquids and can be separated before the combustion begins. The nitrogen is removed and the pure oxygen is combined with natural gas to produce a flame which, if not moderated, would reach temperatures of about 6,000 degrees. That's too hot to handle for just about anything except flying rockets, so the plant adds water to the mix."

By eliminating NOx and burying CO2, the company may just have hit on a actual zero emission plant. Time will tell.