Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) Power Plant

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research


What it is

Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) is a power generation technology that combines gasification and combined cycle power generation to achieve high efficiency and low emissions. In an IGCC plant, a gasifier converts coal or other carbonaceous feedstocks into syngas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. The syngas is then cleaned and used to fuel a gas turbine, which generates electricity. The waste heat from the gas turbine is recovered and used to produce steam, which drives a steam turbine to generate additional electricity.

Impact on climate action

Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) within Low-Carbon Thermal Power advances climate action by converting coal and biomass into clean energy with lower emissions. By capturing pollutants and enhancing energy efficiency, this innovation reduces carbon emissions, mitigates environmental impact, and promotes the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon energy system.

Underlying
Technology

  • Gasification: Gasification is a thermochemical process that converts carbonaceous materials, such as coal or biomass, into syngas. The gasification process involves heating the feedstock in a controlled environment with a limited amount of oxygen.
  • Syngas Cleaning: The syngas produced by gasification contains impurities, such as sulfur compounds and particulate matter, which need to be removed before it can be used as fuel for the gas turbine.
  • Gas Turbine: The cleaned syngas is used to fuel a gas turbine, which generates electricity.
  • Heat Recovery Steam Generator (HRSG): The HRSG recovers waste heat from the gas turbine exhaust and uses it to produce steam.
  • Steam Turbine: The steam generated by the HRSG drives a steam turbine, which generates additional electricity.
  • Combined Cycle Power Generation: The combination of gas and steam turbines in a combined cycle configuration significantly increases the overall efficiency of the power plant.c

TRL : 7-8

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Advanced Gasification Technologies: Innovations in gasification technology, such as entrained flow gasifiers and fluidized bed gasifiers, are improving efficiency, feedstock flexibility, and syngas quality.
  • Gas Turbine Advancements: Advancements in gas turbine technology, such as higher firing temperatures and improved blade designs, are increasing the efficiency of electricity generation.
  • Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): Integrating CCS technologies with IGCC plants can capture CO2 emissions from the syngas before it is used as fuel, resulting in near-zero emissions power generation.
  • Hybrid IGCC Systems: Hybrid IGCC systems combine gasification with other power generation technologies, such as renewable energy sources or fuel cells, to improve flexibility and reduce emissions.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Advanced Gasification Techniques
  • Enhanced Syngas Cleaning Methods
  • Next-Generation Gas Turbines
  • High-Efficiency Heat Recovery Systems
  • Synergy with Carbon Capture Solutions
  • Hybridization with Renewable Energy
  • Cutting-Edge Blade Designs
  • Hybrid IGCC Configurations
  • Innovative Gasification Reactor Designs
  • Enhanced Particulate Matter Removal
  • Syngas Quality Optimization
  • Novel Steam Turbine Solutions
  • Advanced Combustion Control Systems
  • Optimal Plant Siting Techniques
  • Next-Gen Gasification Catalysts

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. General Electric (GE):
    • Technology Enhancement: General Electric (GE) offers IGCC technology as part of its comprehensive portfolio of power generation solutions. IGCC is a process that converts coal, biomass, or other carbonaceous materials into synthesis gas (syngas), which can then be used to generate electricity in a combined cycle power plant. GE’s IGCC systems typically consist of gasification units, gas cleanup systems, and gas turbines, allowing for efficient and environmentally friendly power generation.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: GE is known for its expertise in power generation technologies and its commitment to innovation in clean energy solutions. Their IGCC systems incorporate advanced gasification and gas cleanup technologies to minimize emissions and maximize efficiency, making them suitable for both coal and biomass feedstocks.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: GE serves utilities, independent power producers (IPPs), and industrial customers seeking reliable and sustainable power generation solutions. Their IGCC technology is deployed in power plants worldwide, providing a flexible and efficient approach to electricity generation while reducing environmental impact.
  2. Siemens Energy:
    • Technology Enhancement: Siemens Energy offers IGCC technology as part of its portfolio of power plant solutions. Their IGCC systems are designed to convert coal or other carbonaceous materials into syngas, which is then used to generate electricity in a combined cycle configuration. Siemens Energy’s IGCC technology includes gasification units, syngas cleanup systems, and high-efficiency gas turbines for power generation.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Siemens Energy is a global leader in energy technology and innovation, with a strong focus on sustainability and decarbonization. Their IGCC systems are characterized by high efficiency, low emissions, and operational flexibility, making them suitable for a wide range of applications and fuel types.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Siemens Energy serves utilities, industrial customers, and project developers seeking advanced power generation solutions. Their IGCC technology is deployed in coal-fired power plants, biomass-to-energy projects, and integrated energy complexes, providing reliable and environmentally friendly electricity generation.
  3. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI):
    • Technology Enhancement: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is a leading provider of IGCC technology for power generation and industrial applications. Their IGCC systems utilize advanced gasification technology to convert coal, petroleum coke, or biomass into syngas, which is then used to produce electricity in a combined cycle power plant. MHI’s IGCC solutions include gasification reactors, syngas cleanup systems, and high-efficiency gas turbines.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: MHI is renowned for its expertise in engineering and manufacturing across various industries, including energy and environmental solutions. Their IGCC systems are characterized by high reliability, efficiency, and environmental performance, making them a preferred choice for clean and efficient power generation.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: MHI serves utilities, industrial customers, and energy project developers seeking advanced IGCC solutions. Their technology is deployed in coal-fired power plants, biomass energy projects, and integrated energy complexes, offering a sustainable and cost-effective approach to electricity generation.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Research Focus: MIT is renowned for its research on Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC), which involves the integration of coal or biomass gasification with a combined cycle power generation system to produce electricity with lower emissions and higher efficiency.
    • Uniqueness: MIT’s research emphasizes advanced gasification technologies, such as pressurized and entrained-flow gasifiers, to convert solid fuels into synthesis gas (syngas) containing hydrogen and carbon monoxide. They also investigate novel gas cleanup and conditioning techniques to remove impurities and contaminants from the syngas before combustion or further processing.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in coal-to-power, biomass-to-energy, and carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) projects. By advancing IGCC technology, MIT’s research contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing energy security, and diversifying the fuel mix in the power generation sector.
  2. Stanford University:
    • Research Focus: Stanford University conducts innovative research on Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC), focusing on technology advancements, system optimization, and environmental performance improvement for low-carbon thermal power generation.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses computational modeling, process simulation, and experimental studies to enhance the efficiency, flexibility, and reliability of IGCC plants. They also explore co-gasification and co-firing strategies, as well as the integration of renewable hydrogen production and energy storage technologies to enhance the overall sustainability of IGCC systems.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in clean coal power plants, bioenergy facilities, and industrial cogeneration units. By developing innovative solutions for IGCC, Stanford’s research supports the transition to a low-carbon energy economy, enabling the continued use of fossil fuels while minimizing environmental impacts and maximizing resource utilization.
  3. National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL):
    • Research Focus: NETL, as part of the U.S. Department of Energy, conducts cutting-edge research on Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC), aiming to develop and demonstrate advanced technologies for clean and efficient power generation from coal, biomass, and waste feedstocks.
    • Uniqueness: Their research spans the entire IGCC value chain, from feedstock preparation and gasification to syngas cleanup, power generation, and carbon capture. They focus on pilot-scale testing, demonstration projects, and techno-economic analysis to validate technology readiness levels and assess the commercial viability of IGCC systems.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in coal-based power plants, biomass conversion facilities, and industrial cogeneration applications. By advancing IGCC technology through research and development, NETL supports the deployment of clean and sustainable thermal power generation solutions, contributing to national energy security and environmental stewardship goals.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Several commercial-scale IGCC plants are in operation around the world, primarily using coal as the feedstock. For example, the Wabash River Energy Center in Indiana, USA, is a 600 MW IGCC plant that uses coal gasification to generate electricity.