BYU awarded $4.6m from the United States DOE

04 November 2020

BYU is receiving funding as part of the United States Department of Energy’s (DOE) “Critical Components for Coal FIRST Power Plants of the Future” initiative. Andrew Fry, BYU Chemical Engineering associate professor, is the principal investigator for the project. 

The project aims to conduct testing and produce model-based optimization of coal-fired primary heaters that use supercritical CO2 power cycles. Traditionally, coal-fired heaters use Rankine cycles, which use steam to produce mechanical energy. Dr. Fry’s goal is to shift this process to a Brayton cycle, which, in this case, uses CO2 to produce energy, rather than steam.

While steam is an effective way to generate power, Dr. Fry proposes that it is not the most efficient way. “The available amounts of energy in a CO2 cycle are greater [than steam], and there’s a bigger difference between the top of the cycle and the bottom of the cycle which allows us to get more energy out of it,” said Fry.

The unknown component of the project is the heat exchanger, which Babcock Power is tasked with developing. Once developed, the heat exchanger will be housed in the L1500 and integrate with the compressor and CO2 management system. Through process modeling tools, the team will evaluate the final system performance at the pilot scale and full scale.