Natural Resources and Environment:

How To Burn Coal Efficiently and Economically, and Meet Air Pollution Requirements--The Fluidized-Bed Combustion Process

EMD-80-12: Published: Nov 9, 1979. Publicly Released: Nov 9, 1979.


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The nation has the potential to reduce its dependence on imported oil through a process known as fluidized-bed combustion. This is the process of burning coal in a mixture of air and limestone generating heat and electricity more efficiently and economically than conventional coal-fired boilers with pollution control equipment. The concept is sound, but its reliability under industrial and utility loads must be demonstrated.

The Department of Energy (DOE) could improve its program for demonstrating the reliability of the fluidized-bed combustion plants by pursuing some complementary strategies to private industry participation. Industrial-size demonstration units could be placed in Department of Defense (DOD) industrial plants where replacement units for old fossil fuel boilers are needed. DOE could also enter into an interagency agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for a demonstration plant, taking advantage of the past and ongoing research activities and skilled, experienced personnel at that organization. The merits of continuing the construction of a component test and integration unit should be reevaluated. Several other test facilities already exist. The data received may not be generated in time to affect designs of the utility projects. Finally, the boiler manufacturers, whose participation is essential, may not use the unit.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendation for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should: (1) enter into an interagency agreement with DOD to place industrial demonstration plants in DOD facilities; and (2) enter into an interagency agreement with TVA for hosting the 200-megawatt utility demonstration plant. In addition, the Secretary should reevaluate the costs and benefits of continuing its plans for the test facility, including options for terminating the contracts and selling or modifying the facility for other uses.

    Agency Affected:

    Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

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