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Gasification Plant Funds Shifted By DOE

by Jeffrey W. Johnson
August 16, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 33

What was to be the first commercial-scale gasification plant to generate electricity and capture and sequester CO2 underground was canceled last week by the Department of Energy. Funding for the long-troubled $1 billion FutureGen project will be shifted to retrofit a 30-year-old, 200-MW power plant and make it capable of separating and concentrating CO2 with oxy-combustion technology. FutureGen was first canceled during the George W. Bush Administration as its costs grew and few industrial partners were willing to join with DOE to fund the Mattoon, Ill., facility. During his confirmation hearing, Energy Secretary Steven Chu was pressured, particularly by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), to re-fund the project, and he did. But again, few industrial partners came forward to help finance FutureGen. When Chu and Durbin announced the new alternative, they stressed that the existing power plant is also in Illinois, in Meredosia, and that Mattoon will remain the location for sequestering the CO2. However, officials in Mattoon have announced they are not interested in having the sequestration site there. Oxy-combustion is considered a promising retrofit technology for existing coal-fired power plants, Chu noted. The method burns coal in an oxygen-rich environment, producing fewer conventional pollutants and encouraging the concentration and capture of CO2.


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