Synergistic Heat Pumped Thermal Storage and Flexible Carbon Capture System

Default ARPA-E Project Image

Fort Collins, Colorado
Project Term:
03/01/2021 - 08/31/2022

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:

Colorado State University and its partners—ION Clean Energy, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Bright Generation Holdings—will develop a thermal energy storage system with flexible advanced solvent carbon capture technology. The system aims to decrease the levelized cost of electricity for natural gas-fired combined cycle (NGCC) power plants to <75 $/MWh while simultaneously capturing >95% of CO2 emissions when operating in highly VRE penetration markets. The team's approach uses a novel and low-cost heat-pump thermal storage system. This system enables load shifting and NGCC efficiency benefits to reduce capital costs and achieve higher net plant capacities while enabling load following (adjusting power output as energy demand fluctuates) and optimal utilization of ION’s flexible CCS technology. The combination of these two unique technologies eliminates the peak operation plant de-rate (operating at less than maximum capacity) for CCS, allowing the plant to produce at maximum generation levels while simultaneously capturing >95% of CO2 emissions.

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. Todd Bandhauer
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Bright Generation Holdings
ION Clean Energy, Inc.
University of Pennsylvania

Related Projects

Release Date: