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March 30, 2009
Updated for print Apr. 6 2009, p. 5

CLIMATE CHANGE

Dow And Alstom To Capture CO2

Chemical maker and power plant builder link to build amine-based pilot plant

Michael McCoy

Dow Chemical and power plant builder Alstom are joining to construct a pilot facility at Dow's South Charleston, W.Va., site that will capture carbon dioxide from the flue gas of a coal-fired boiler.

Dow and Alstom will test CO₂ technology at this West Virginia plant. Credit: Dow Dow
Dow and Alstom will test CO₂ technology at this West Virginia plant.

Alstom will design, construct, and operate the plant, which is expected to capture about 1,800 tons of CO2 per year. It will open in the third quarter, the partners say. Most scientists believe man-made CO2 contributes to global climate change.

"Coal, which represents over two-thirds of the world's power generation, is and will continue to be an essential part of the world's energy mix," says Philippe Joubert, president of Alstom Power. "But only by reducing its CO2 output can coal remain a viable source of power generation."

The West Virginia plant is the result of a joint agreement that Dow and Alstom entered last year to develop an amine-based technology for removing CO2 from exhaust or flue gases. Dow markets similar technology to the oil and gas industry for stripping CO2 and hydrogen sulfide from natural gas. CO2 is a weak acid whereas amines are weak bases.

The project is one of several Alstom has set up in the U.S. and Europe to test CO2 removal technologies. One of those is a carbon capture and storage project it announced in December with a Polish electric company. Also based on Dow's amine technology, the facility is expected to capture 100,000 tons of CO2 per year by mid-2011.

Peder Danielsen, strategic marketing director for Dow's oil and gas business, says the West Virginia facility will help establish chemistry and engineering parameters for the Polish project. At the same time, given the Obama Administration's commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., he sees the opportunity for a similar power plant project with a North American partner.

Alstom is already partnering with the Electric Power Research Institute and the Wisconsin power company We Energies to develop an ammonia-based CO2 capture technology (C&EN, March 3, 2008, page 7). Danielsen acknowledges the competing approach, but he maintains that amine-based technology "is much closer to being commercially ready."

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ISSN 0009-2347
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