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Department of Energy Awards $20 Million for Project to Advance Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage

Posted Aug 10 2009 7:54am

Washington, D.C. —The Department of Energy has announced that Ramgen Power Systems LLC, Bellevue, Washington, has been awarded $20 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to scale up a device that uses supersonic shockwaves to compress carbon dioxide (CO2) for capture and storage.

The funding from DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and its National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) will accelerate commercial deployment of the novel CO2 compressor, called the Rampressor, which can be used for carbon capture and storage in most industrial settings. The project is part of the Obama Administration’s ongoing efforts to develop technologies to reduce emissions of CO2, a major greenhouse gas, while creating new jobs.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said, "To prevent the worst effects of climate change, we must accelerate our efforts to capture and store carbon in a safe and cost-effective way. This funding will both create jobs now and help position the United States to lead the world in CCS technologies, which will be in increasing demand in the years ahead."

In a carbon-constrained world, facilities such as cement plants, chemical plants, refineries, steel and aluminum plants, factories, and power plants may be required to reduce their carbon footprint by capturing CO2 from exhaust gases and storing it in geological settings such as saline formations, depleted oil and gas reservoirs, or unmineable coal seams. A required step in this process is compressing the CO2 so it can be transported by pipeline or tankers to the location where it will be stored.

Current CO2 compression technologies are costly to purchase, too large for many retrofits, and require substantial maintenance costs including additional electricity needed to run the compressors. Developing advanced CO2 compression technologies such as the Rampressor will enable management of greenhouse gas emissions without imposing crippling electricity cost increases on ratepayers.

The Rampressor employs a fundamentally new technology that reduces the cost of compressing CO2 to achieve affordable carbon capture and storage. At the heart of this relatively simple device is a rotating disk that spins with enough speed to achieve supersonic compression effects in a stationary environment. Compared to conventional CO2 compressors, the Rampressor has fewer parts, a smaller footprint, and lower overall system costs. In addition, the system generates higher quality heat, which can potentially be captured and used, further increasing the system’s efficiency.

Prior to receiving the new award, Ramgen was working with NETL to design and build a 3,000 horsepower compressor based on the new technology by January 2011. With the additional funding, they will be able to pick up the pace of development and testing to demonstrate a 13,000 horsepower compressor by the same date. The scaled-up device will be installed and tested with CO2 at Dresser-Rand’s world-class testing facility in Olean, N.Y.

As an added benefit, the expanded project will support nearly 140 jobs which will extend over the life of the project.

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