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Review of Doe’s Vision 21 Research and Development Program—Phase I
between the two programs will greatly enhance the achievement of goals in both programs.
Recommendation. The gas purification, gas separation, and environmental controls subprograms should be merged immediately into a single subprogram. A rigorous engineering analysis should be carried out to answer critical questions about the point in the process where the removal or extraction of certain molecules should occur (e.g., O2 purity vs. CO2 capture; H2S or Hg removal after gasification or SOx or Hg removal after combustion; NOx removal via catalysis/ adsorption or NOx avoidance via catalytic combustion). Such an analysis would exploit the common intellectual basis of the required processes and allow their integration into the overall process in a less fragmented manner.
SENSORS AND CONTROLS
The stated objectives and focus of the Vision 21 Program are to lower significantly the emissions of pollutants, improve the overall efficiency, and make the capital and operating costs competitive with those of natural-gas-fed power generation systems. Innovative sensors and controls could improve plant efficiency by enabling better utilization of the raw materials and could lower the capital cost on a per unit product basis by increasing plant availability. In some cases, new generations of sensors and controls will be needed before an enabling technology can be implemented—for example, several controls will be needed for the operation of hydrogen-fed gas turbines and fuel cells.
Currently, there are seven sensors and controls projects related to the Vision 21 Program. Most of them are in the advanced materials portfolio of the NETL Advanced Research program. The April 2001 workshop14 on sensors and controls technology helped to identify some of the relevant needs in the Vision 21 Program but failed to attract stakeholders involved in the operation of the existing gasification demonstration plants. It is also not clear if there is sufficient funding to undertake the R&D efforts suggested in the workshop.
The Vision 21 Program will benefit from a strong sensor and controls R&D program. The Materials Program of the NETL Advanced Research program is the appropriate group in which to carry out the sensors and controls projects. However, the Materials Program should work closely with the System Analysis Group to focus and prioritize project funding by quantifying the potential impacts of advanced sensors and controls.