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June 06. 2012 9:32PM

Dartmouth gets grant to boost power plants

Dartmouth College has received a $294,072 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for a research project on strengthening steel alloys with aluminum for the next generation of gas- and coal-fired power plants.

The Dartmouth work will focus on improving oxidation resistance in iron-based steel alloys containing chromium and nickel. Dartmouth will put $108,394 of its own funds towards the project.

The grant was one of nine averaging $300,000 each to universities to strengthen and improve corrosion resistance for iron-based steels, which currently cannot tolerate the temperatures up to 1,400 degrees needed to operate Advanced Ultra Super Critical turbines and boilers for power generation plants.

Under the grants, totaling $2.7 million, student-led teams will develop new materials and processes that can endure extreme conditions and make coal more cost competitive, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman said in a conference call.

“We need to embrace new technologies that allow the power sector to burn coal more cleanly and efficiently,” Heather Zichal, a deputy assistant to President Obama for energy policy, said.

Zichal said the Obama Administration has invested more than $5 billion in clean coal technology research and development, particularly carbon capture and storage, which has been matched by more than $10 billion in private capital investment.

Industry is focused on finding alternatives to expensive nickel-based alloys.

Research projects announced Wednesday also will use new processes and computational design methods to develop new materials, improve efficiency and reduce the costs of cleaner power generation systems.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Race To First ranked Pennsylvania-based Air Products and Chemicals Inc. as its frontrunner for its Port Arthur demonstration project in Texas. The $431 million project, due to go into full operation in the first quarter of 2013, was partly funded by the Energy Department in 2010.

Texas-based Valero Energy Corp.’s Port Arthur refinery will capture carbon dioxide from two steam methane reformers and sell it to Denbury Resources for use in enhanced oil recovery operations.

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Denis Paiste may be reached at dpaiste@unionleader.com.


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