(418a) Challenging Separations in the Power Generation Industry

Authors: 
Meeks, N. D., Southern Company Services, Inc.
The power generation industry has diverse challenging physical and chemical separations, including many in which membranes are important. For coal-fired steam generators, physical separations of ash (particulate matter) from the flue gas using electrostatic precipitation, wet scrubbing, or fabric filters pose challenges on various fuel types (interference from other constituents). Chemical separations include adsorption of contaminants such as mercury, reactive separations targeting sulur dioxide or sulfuric acid, and removal of carbon dioxide. Environmental contaminants (such as mercury, selenium, and nitrates) must also be removed from water used in the flue gas cleanup and ash handling.

However, other power generators include challenging separations. Energy storage technologies such as batteries and flow batteries rely on membranes to maintain charge separation and respond quickly when electrical demand is high. Advanced nuclear power generators need process contaminants removed to maintain high efficiency.

Poly-generation (such as hydrogen and power production) relies on separation technologies. Produced hydrogen must be separated from co-products using hydrogen separation membranes, and utilized in fuel cells that requires different membranes. Advanced hydrogen generation technologies such as electrolysis and photolysis require advanced membranes, and thermochemically produced hydrogen has challenging separations in each of the unit operations.

This talk will survey the key progress and remaining challenges in each area of power generation: coal-fired, storage, nuclear, and hydrogen.