Clean Coal Technology Installed At Florida Plant
A 35 year old power plant in Florida has been updated with more efficient technology, allowing it to burn coal more cleanly and completely.
Officials from the U.S. Department of Energy and JEA, Jacksonville’s municipal utility, cooperated on a $630 million, five year effort to install clean coal technology at the Northside Generating Station.
The plant has been equipped with state of the art circulating fluidized bed combustors, making the station one of the cleanest burning coal plants in the world.
The two advanced combustors, the largest ever installed in a power plant as each generates 300 megawatts of power, are enough to light more than 250,000 average households.
The plant now generates two and a half times more power than before the new installations. Using coal instead of the more expensive oil and gas the plant has been burning is expected to help keep electric rates low and stable in the Jacksonville area.
In 1996, JEA committed to reducing pollutants from the Northside Station by at least 10 percent when it replaced two of the plant’s obsolete and inefficient oil and gas fired units. The Energy Department contributed more than $74 million to the project as one of the first initiatives under its Clean Coal Technology Program.
The federal funding went to install one of the two combustors. JEA converted the second boiler with its own funding.
Circulating fluidized bed combustors reduce pollution inside the furnace as the coal burns instead of waiting to clean or scrub escaping emissions. Crushed limestone added to the coal as it enters the combustor captures 90 percent of the sulfur pollutants.
The fluid motion of the coal as it burns–accounting for the name fluidized bed – also allows a slow burn that prevents the formation of nitrogen oxides, another air pollutant that can cause smog. The Northside Station’s 12 story circulating fluidized bed combustors, supplied by Foster Wheeler Energy Corp., are the largest of their type in the world.
Nitrogen oxides are reduced even more by a chemical reaction with ammonia in the upper portions of the boiler. Exhaust gases pass through a polishing scrubber to cut total sulfur dioxide pollutants by almost 98 percent. The flue gas is then sent through fabric filters to remove solid fly ash particles.
The Northside Station will be one of the world’s most fuel flexible power plants. While many older plants were designed for a narrow range of coals, the circulating fluidized bed technology burns a much wider variety of fuels. In addition to coal, JEA plans to fuel the Northside Station with petroleum coke, a low cost solid that oil refineries discard as waste.
The utility installed a totally enclosed conveyor system to transport coal and coke from barges docked on the St. Johns River to the two largest fuel storage domes in North America. The contained system prevents dust particles from escaping into the environment.
Under its funding agreement, the Energy Department will collect data from plant operations through April 2004. The plant will continue to operate as a commercial facility.
Provided by the the Environmental News Service.