Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership
Press Releases and Articles

EERC on Track to Make Zero-Emission Coal-Fired Power Generation a Reality
October 28, 2005

(GRAND FORKS, ND) -- The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University of North Dakota (UND) announced today major achievements in the development of a zero-emission coal-fired power plant. The EERC is leading a series of programs that together provide the technical basis for a near-zero-emission facility. Such a facility would run more efficiently and exceed current air emission regulations.

"This has been a goal of the EERC's for over ten years--we believe a zero-emission system is the future for energy," said EERC Director Gerald Groenewold. "The technical hurdles are behind us, and it is just a matter of time before the system economically becomes reality," he said. "Our design consists of an entire family of technologies that, when working together, will offer greatly enhanced efficiency, and reduced emissions and contribute to a cleaner, healthier environment."

In the United States, coal is the largest source of electricity today and will continue to be the largest single source for the foreseeable future. A zero-emission coal-fired power plant includes components that address all major and minor environmental challenges.

"Coal is our most abundant domestic resource for supplying affordable energy, and a zero-emission plant must be our goal if we are to effectively utilize this abundant resource," said EERC Associate Director for Research Tom Erickson.

Key components of the system include advanced coal utilization technologies to improve energy efficiency and reduce fuel use and advanced emission control devices to capture hazardous trace metals such as mercury; dramatically reduce particulate, sulfur oxide (SOx), sulfur trioxide (SO3), and nitrogen oxide (NOx); and capture and sequester carbon dioxide (CO2).

The EERC is advancing a suite of clean coal technologies including oxygen-blown combustion and gasification systems. These systems can utilize a variety of coal types to produce electricity more efficiently and can also produce synthetic natural gas and liquid fuels.

By retrofitting power plants with the EERC's Advanced HybridTM, more than 99.99% of fine particulates can be captured, resulting in cleaner gas coming out of the facility than the air that went in. The Advanced HybridTM is currently being demonstrated at Otter Tail Power Company's Big Stone Power Plant in Milbank, South Dakota, and the Sacci Cement Company in Cagnano, Italy.

The EERC has also worked with numerous companies developing SOx and NOx control technologies. In partnership with two international corporations, the EERC has developed a technology to effectively control SO3 emissions which can be difficult to control in many power plants.

Through the EERC's Center for Air Toxic Metals® (CATM®) program, the EERC has been proven to be the premier group in the world for developing mercury control technologies. The EERC is working with Babcock & Wilcox Company to advance technologies to control mercury in both combustion and gasification systems.

Another major focus of the EERC's program is the development of technologies to reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. The EERC's Plains CO2 Reduction (PCOR) Partnership, consisting of 44 public and private entities in the central interior of North America, is one of the leading programs selected by the U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory to determine the best options to capture and sequester (store in an environmentally sound geologic location) CO2 emissions from the nation's power plants.

A new technology to recover water from a power plant and conserve scarce water resources will also be included. Water consumption is one of the most significant challenges facing the energy industry, which is second only to agriculture as the largest user of water in the country. The EERC is working to develop a technology which, when combined with air cooling, could potentially reduce the amount of water consumed in a conventional power plant to near zero.

"Achieving energy security in this country and ensuring the quality of the global environment depends on the commercialization of innovative, clean, energy-efficient technologies to meet the energy demands of the world, and the EERC is committed to providing the necessary strategic solutions," Groenewold said.

- END -

For more information contact: Tom Erickson, Associate Director for Research, at (701) 777-5153 or