CLIMATE:

Dow, Alstom to build CO2 capture pilot project in W.Va.

The Dow Chemical Co. and French energy services firm Alstom are developing a pilot project to capture carbon dioxide from a chemical manufacturing plant in South Charleston, W.Va.

Alstom will design, build and operate the pilot plant, which would capture about 1,800 tons of CO2 annually from the Dow coal-fired boiler's flue gas. The pilot plant, slated for operation this fall, would be the initial test site for carbon-capture technology the companies hope to deploy globally on power plants, cement kilns and other large emitters of greenhouse gases.

"We're going to look at all applications that need this technology for capturing CO2," said Peder Danielsen, strategic marketing director for Dow's oil and gas unit. He declined to say how much the companies intend to invest in developing and deploying the technology.

The West Virginia pilot project would use amines, or ammonia derivatives, to bond with the smoke stack's CO2. The project would then use heat to strip CO2 from the amines, which would be recycled.

The CO2 would be released back into the atmosphere in this case, noted Bob Hilton, Alstom's vice president for technology. "It's too small of a scale to do anything else," he said.

The companies are exploring other options at potential commercial-scale sites, such as injecting the CO2 underground for long-term storage or enhanced oil recovery, Hilton added.

Alstom is planning to start up its first commercial C02-capture project at Poland's Belchatow power plant, which is owned by PGE Elektrownia Belchatow S.A.

In the project's first phase, slated for 2011, Alstom would use amines to capture about 100,000 tons of CO2 annually. The project's second phase would capture CO2 from a new 858-megawatt, coal-fired unit.

The captured emissions would be sequestered underground, Hilton said.