Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Southern Company, University of Alabama at Birmingham to Partner on Greenhouse Gas Reduction Project

/PRNewswire/ -- Southern Company said yesterday it will help train students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in carbon sequestration engineering under a project that adds to efforts advancing the commercialization of technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power production.

The research project, selected by the U.S. Department of Energy for funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, will help develop an educated work force to support commercial utility-scale geologic sequestration activities in the future, said Richard Esposito, Southern Company principal geologist.

The project includes the involvement of undergraduate engineering honors students in independent research on geologic sequestration focused on the sealing capacity of cap rocks serving as barriers to carbon dioxide migration in geologic formations; development of an advanced undergraduate/graduate level course on coal combustion and gasification, climate change, and carbon sequestration; support of six graduate students conducting research on the development of protocols for assessment of seal layer integrity; and analysis of cap rock samples from geologic formations under consideration for sequestration of CO2.

"Understanding the integrity of cap rocks is one of the key elements to safe and permanent sequestration," Esposito said.

The project is one of 43 that DOE is funding to offer training opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students that will provide the human capital and skills required for implementing and deploying carbon capture and storage technologies.

"This is an excellent opportunity to meet an important need as we seek to commercially deploy carbon capture and sequestration technology - a work force that is educated and skilled in how the technology works," said Chris Hobson, Southern Company chief environmental officer. "We are pleased to have this opportunity to partner with UAB to increase our knowledge of geologic sequestration."

The project will provide the UAB investigators and their students with rock samples for study in the laboratory, geologic data with which to construct mathematical models and simulations, direct contact with Southern Company geologists and engineers engaged in carbon capture and storage research and development, and opportunities to visit field sites where large-scale tests of carbon sequestration are underway, said Peter Walsh, UAB research professor of mechanical engineering.

"Southern Company's involvement and support are key components of the training for our students to work in carbon capture and storage," Walsh said. "We are delighted to partner with Southern Company on a project that enables us to contribute to a solution of one of the most interesting, important and complex issues of our time."

Southern Company is committed to leadership in researching, developing and deploying advanced technologies, including carbon capture and sequestration, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Among the company's key projects:

- DOE recently selected Southern Company to operate and manage the new National Carbon Capture Center, which will develop and test advanced technologies to capture carbon dioxide from coal-based power plants.

- Southern Company is partnering with DOE, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., the Electric Power Research Institute and others to build a demonstration facility to capture carbon dioxide emissions from an existing unit of subsidiary Alabama Power's Plant Barry near Mobile, Ala. CO2 from the plant will be transported for permanent underground storage in a demonstration of start-to-finish carbon capture and sequestration.

- Southern Company subsidiary Mississippi Power's Plant Daniel is host site for a sequestration demonstration in which 3,000 metric tons of CO2 have been injected into a deep underground geologic formation.

- Mississippi Power has proposed to build a 582-megawatt coal gasification plant using advanced Transport Integrated Gasification (TRIG(TM)) technology developed by Southern Company, KBR Inc. and others that also will include 65 percent carbon capture and re-use.

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