The University of Kentucky and Louisville Gas and Electric have launched a partnership to study carbon capture technology at natural gas power plants.
The latest climate research doubles down on what we already know: Humankind needs to stop pumping carbon into the atmosphere, and the faster we do it, the less the planet warms.
The allure of carbon capture technology is that it allows society to continue to burn fossil fuels. But the technology is expensive, and right now even the biggest “direct air capture” plant will have no meaningful impact on the amount of carbon humans emit into the atmosphere every year, according to Inside Climate News.
LG&E and University of Kentucky scientists announced last week they are studying how to economically capture carbon dioxide emitted from natural gas power plants.
To do that, researchers want to minimize construction costs by also producing hydrogen and oxygen, which can be sold to offset the costs of the technology.
By keeping the plant’s electrical generation at a constant rate, researchers hope to produce hydrogen and oxygen during periods of low energy demand, according to a press release from the University of Kentucky.
Researchers say the constant rate will maximize fuel efficiency and extend the equipment’s life.
The University of Kentucky says development of the technology will lead to affordable, negative carbon emissions at natural gas power plants.
“We are pleased to be collaborating with our long-term partners at LG&E and KU to develop a solution to a pressing problem facing the energy industry,” said Kunlei Liu, associate director for research at UK’s Center for Applied Energy Research. “Being able to improve the lifespan and efficiency of natural gas combined cycle power plants while simultaneously achieving negative carbon dioxide emissions will have a profound impact on Kentucky’s energy industry.”
The first phase of the study will take place at UK, with the goal of testing the tech on LG&E’s Cane Run power plant in Louisville.
LG&E and Kentucky Utilities have invested more than $4 million in decarbonization research with UK’s Center for Applied Energy since 2006, according to the press release.
“We’re proud to once again partner with UK CAER on groundbreaking research that has the potential to create meaningful advances in power generation,” said LG&E and KU Chief Operating Officer Lonnie Bellar.
LG&E’s parent company, PPL Corporation, is committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 and a 70% reduction from 2010 levels by 2035.
PPL says the bulk of its emissions reductions will come from transitioning coal-fired power plants to natural gas and renewable sources, though it plans to continue burning coal at Kentucky power plants through 2040.