Energy Secretary Steven Chu recently announced that $1 billion in stimulus funding was being targeted to restart the stalled FutureGen project.
This infusion of tax dollars will provide breathing room for the FutureGen project. Originally, FutureGen was to build a state of the art IGCC facility in Mattoon, IL. Synthetic natural gas from the facility would then be used to power a combined cycle generation plant. CO2 remaining after the gasification process would have been captured and stored underground in favorable Illinois geological sinks. Deep geology beneath the Meredosia site will not allow for carbon storage, however. Therefore, the Mattoon site is still being targeted for the physical sequestration of the CO2. A pipeline is expected to be built to transfer it from the Meredosia site.
FutureGen 2.0, as it is now being called, is planned to retrofit an existing Ameren plant in Meredosia, IL. The old oil-fired plant will be converted to an commercial-scale oxy-combustion plant (where coal is combusted in a pure oxygen environment, leaving a concetrated stream of CO2 for storage). Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) defended the altered plans by highlighting the idea that FutureGen was always meant to be a “research effort.” As gasification plants are now being built commercially in the U.S., Durbin argued there was no longer any need to test the concept and that an oxy-fueled research concept would address
The plant’s new boiler, air separation unit, CO2 purification and compression unit will deliver 90 percent CO2 capture and eliminate most SOx, NOx, mercury, and particulate emissions. … FutureGen 2.0 stays true to the original spirit of the FutureGen project by advancing technology that can make the United States a world leader in carbon capture and storage. Secretary Chu and Senator Durbin intend to visit the Illinois sites for this project in the coming weeks.