Fossil-Fueled Energy Complexes, which resulted in the report Vision 21, Fossil Fuel Options for the Future, published in the spring of 2000 (NRC, 2000). At that time the Vision 21 Program was in a relatively embryonic stage, having been initiated by DOE in 1998-1999. The NRC report contained a number of recommendations for DOE to consider as it moved forward with its program; DOE’s responses to many of these recommendations are considered in Chapter 3. Now, 2 years after the first review, DOE’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Coal and Power Systems requested that the NRC review progress and activities in the Vision 21 Program. In response, the NRC formed the Committee to Review DOE’s Vision 21 R&D Program—Phase I. Most of its members also served on the committee that wrote the earlier report (see Appendix A for committee biographical information). Many details of the program were covered in that report and will not be repeated here. It is anticipated that the committee will conduct reviews of the Vision 21 Program on a regular basis.

As noted in DOE’s Vision 21 Program Plan and the Vision 21 Technology Roadmap, Vision 21 is a new initiative for developing the technologies necessary for ultraclean, fossil-fuel-based energy plants that will be ready for deployment in 2015 (DOE, 1999a; NETL, 2001). It is envisioned that technology modules will be selected and configured to produce the desired products from the feedstocks (e.g., coal, natural gas, petroleum coke and, where appropriate, opportunity feedstocks such as refinery wastes or biomass) (NETL, 2001). The key technologies under development are identified in the Vision 21 Technology Roadmap and reviewed here in Chapter 3:

  • Gasification,

  • Gas purification,

  • Gas separation,

  • Fuel cells,

  • Turbines,

  • Environmental control,

  • Controls and sensors,

  • Materials,

  • Modeling, simulation, and analysis,1

  • Synthesis gas conversion to fuels and chemicals, and

  • Advanced coal combustion.2


The Vision 21 Technology Roadmap breaks out two areas: (1) computational modeling and virtual simulation and (2) systems analysis and integration, which the committee has combined into one area for the purposes of this report.


The Vision 21 Technology Roadmap identifies the area as combustion and high-temperature heat exchange; the committee has chosen to focus on advanced coal combustion.

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