Akshay Gopan holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering with a minor in environmental engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B). He joined Washington University in St. Louis in 2011 and LACER in 2012. His Ph.D. research works toward the development of the staged, pressurized oxy-combustion (SPOC) process. Previously, he focused on the SPOC process plant design and optimization, as well as its techno-economic evaluation. Currently, his work concentrates on the evaluation of the effect of varying oxygen concentration and pressure on ash formation, deposition on boiler tubes and high-temperature corrosion of boiler materials.
Carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) is currently considered a critical component in the decarbonization of the electricity grid. Support for CCUS in coal power plants is limited, to some extent, by the high cost of electricity associated with available technologies. While a comparison of different capture methods favors oxy-combustion technology, the cost is still prohibitively high and the efficiency is low. The requirement that pure CO2 must ultimately be delivered at high pressure for utilization or storage has led to an interest in pressurizing the combustion process, whereby the latent heat in the flue gas moisture can be largely recovered and integrated into the Rankine cycle, thus increasing plant efficiency.
The Laboratory for Advanced Combustion and Energy Research (LACER) has developed a novel SPOC process that has the potential of increasing plant efficiency even further, via reduction of auxiliary loads associated with flue gas recycle and cleanup. The efficiency penalty for carbon capture is reduced from 10 percentage points for first-generation atmospheric oxy-combustion plants to less than 3 percentage points for a power plant using the SPOC process. This reduction in the efficiency penalty, along with the novel boilers and gas cleanup equipment, limits the increase in the cost of electricity with carbon capture to the U.S. Department of Energy target of less than 35% as compared to an air-fired power plant without capture.