The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) hosted an April 7 workshop on the U.S. Department of of Energy (DOE)/Ohio Coal Development Office project on Advanced Materials for Ultrasupercritical Power Plants. The goal of the project is to develop materials that could enable a coal-fired power plant to produce steam at 1400 deg F (760 deg C) and >4000 psi (276 bar). The plant could achieve a net thermal efficiency of up to 47% (HHV basis) with a bituminous coal fuel while using an evaporative cooling tower (higher efficiencies would be possible if once-through cooling with sea water is used).
Fifty people attended the workshop and lively discussions ensued as project participants summarized the progress to date and the participants provided feedback on the next steps.
DOE Acting Assistant Secretary of Fossil Energy Dr. Vic Der said he was “extremely impressed by the progress” of the project. He noted that early in his career, DOE had looked at using nickel-based alloys for nuclear power applications and had long ago given up on welding Inconel, but this project has shown it can be done. He also said that “materials are the key and the heart and soul of competitiveness for the U.S. power industry.”
In a survey of representatives from power generation companies at the end of the workshop, approximately three-quarters of them agreed a component test facility is needed as a confidence-building step before proceeding with a commercial-scale power plant that could demonstrate the 1400 degree F technology. One of the key components they said needs to be proven at a test facility is large-diameter seamless piping fabricated from the candidate nickel alloys (Inconel 740 and Haynes 282).
A summary of the results of the advanced materials project can be downloaded at no charge from www.epri.com. Search for report “1022770”.