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Partnership to Advance Clean Coal Technology

October 11, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 41

An alliance between Bechtel Corp. and GE Energy to commercialize integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) projects in North America was announced by the two companies last week. IGCC systems convert coal and other hydrocarbons to synthesis gas that can be used as fuel for combined-cycle gas turbine systems to generate electricity as well as for other industrial purposes. IGCC is cleaner and more efficient than conventional coal-fired power plants, and the Department of Energy has demonstrated the technology's potential to generate electricity at several DOE pilot projects. No U.S. utility has commercially installed it, but that might change. A month ago, two large electric companies expressed an interest in building an IGCC plant (C&EN, Sept. 20, page 36). With Bechtel and GE's announcement, one of the world's largest construction companies and one of the largest turbine makers plan to provide a turnkey construction service for electrical generators. Both have IGCC experience, they say: GE provides gas turbines for more than 60% of the world's IGCC plants and recently bought ChevronTexaco's gasification technology business; Bechtel has built some of these facilities. The market could be large, considering most U.S. electricity is generated by old, coal-fired power plants that are being challenged by states and the federal government on environmental grounds.


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