University of Kentucky Awarded Federal Grant to Develop Carbon Capture Technology

The University of Kentucky will receive nearly $3 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to further develop technologies that can reduce the emission of green house gases from coal-fired power plants. 

Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency announced proposed carbon dioxide emissions limits from new coal-fired power plants. The new rule means building a coal plant will need to include advanced technology like carbon capture and sequestration, which works, but is still prohibitively expensive.

One of the reasons for the cost is because scrubbers have to process the large volumes of gas sent up a power plant’s smokestack. But UK’s Center for Applied Energy Research has been experimenting with a quicker method for absorbing carbon dioxide, which uses a smaller scrubber. Center Director Rodney Andrews said the aim is to use this technology here in the Commonwealth.

“That’s the intent,” he said. “Where that will be determined is what is the final cost of the electricity, once you add these technologies.  These technologies can make coal-fired power plants low carbon emitters.”

Andrews said the equation also includes improving the efficiency of the plants.

“You produce more power, usable energy per ton of Co2 you emit,” he said. “So, efficiency at our power plants is a very easy way to decrease our carbon emissions.”

As the EPA works on carbon dioxide standards for existing power plants, the Department of Energy has set a goal: to have effective and affordable carbon capture technology available by the year 2020.

Andrews said UK’s technology could be tested in a pilot project within the next year or so at the Harrodsburg Brown Power Plant.

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