Positive Power with Negative Emissions: Flexible NGCC Enabled by Modular Direct Air Capture

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Project Term:
11/09/2020 - 02/08/2022

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:

The Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) will develop a modular direct air capture (DAC) process to be integrated with flexible natural gas-fired combined cycle (NGCC) power plants. This approach couples CO2 emissions capture from the NGCC plant using conventional technology with a novel design based on materials capable of removing CO2 from the air. The NGCC plant will run continuously, and the conventional technology will perform at its most efficient level. Steam and power from the natural gas plant are directed to remove CO2 from the atmosphere in times of low demand. The modular nature of the DAC system allows for partial operation, making it highly flexible and allowing power generators to respond to VRE production. It will also provide a pathway to scale up the technology for atmospheric capture of CO2. Emissions are reduced by 99% and then made negative with DAC of CO2.

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. Scott Litzelman
Project Contact:
Dr. Matthew Realff
Press and General Inquiries Email:
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