Flexible Oxy-Fuel Combustion for High-Penetration Variable Renewables

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Fairfield, Connecticut
Project Term:
02/19/2021 - 05/31/2022

Critical Need:

Power plants equipped with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies can reduce the cost of net-zero carbon systems, but the addition of variable renewable energy (VRE) sources like wind and solar can make them difficult to design and operate while limiting their commercial potential. Increased cyclic operation of electricity generators could also reduce capacity factor and efficiency, increase operations and maintenance costs, and potentially increase CO2 emissions. Improving CCS processes and designs could enable a low-cost, net-zero carbon electricity system.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

GE Research will optimize an oxy-combustion natural gas-fired turbine—the Allam-Fetvedt cycle—for flexible generation on a grid with high (VRE) penetration at near-zero carbon emissions. The team will use gas or liquid buffering tanks and tight thermal integration between the air separation unit (ASU) and the oxy-combustion turbine. The proposed technology easily separates the CO2 and H2O in the flue gas of an oxy-combustor. The post-combustion outlet gas is more easily separated into water and CO2 to the pipeline, thereby lowering the electricity costs of grids with high levels of VRE. The system’s flexibility can be improved by taking advantage of times when the electricity cost is low to produce the O2 needed for the combustor and turning down the ASU at times when electricity costs are high. If optimized, such a system has the potential to produce electricity with near-zero CO2 emissions at a reasonable cost.

Potential Impact:

Improvements in the design and processes of CCS-equipped plants in high VRE environments could dramatically reduce the cost of a net-zero carbon system. Benefits include:


Flexible CCS systems can enable the continued use of low-cost domestic fuel for electricity generation and increase the reliability of a deeply decarbonized electricity system.


Flexible CCS systems can achieve high CO2 capture rates from flue gas. For example, a power generator could be enabled to shift the times it exports electricity to the grid, allowing the power generator and CCS plant to operate under steady-state conditions and with reduced emissions.


Flexible CCS systems can reduce the cost of a net-zero carbon electricity system by providing dispatchable power to a high-VRE grid.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Jack Lewnard
Project Contact:
Dr. Donald Whisenhunt
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


8 Rivers Capital, LLC

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