The U.S. Energy Dept. is continuing to spend billions of dollars on carbon capture and storage technology, announcing this month it will distribute about $25 million to eight projects aimed at reducing the cost of carbon dioxide capture. The awards, announced by DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory on Sept. 1, follow $43 million awarded to 26 other carbon-capture projects earlier this summer and more than $6 billion the agency has invested in various technologies since 2008.

The largest recent award, valued at $15 million, is for FuelCell Energy Inc. to design, fabricate and test a $24-million pilot-scale system that will use the company's CO2 separation system. AECOM is a partner on the project. The companies are set to use fuel cells to absorb carbon dioxide from a 2-MW coal-fired powerplant. If the project goes well, FuelCell says it will expand the system to a 25-MW plant. The company expects to finish site selection later this fall.

Another award, for $4 million, allows Dresser-Rand Co. to design, build and test an $8-million supersonic compressor for new and existing coal plants. Supersonic systems are expected to have lower cost and a smaller footprint and use less electricity than existing carbon-capture technology.

Six projects—to be managed by the University of Illinois, University of Kentucky, NRG Energy, Alstom Power, Southern Co. and General Electric Co.—were each awarded $700,000 to $1 million for the first phase of large-scale carbon capture and storage pilot projects. The University of Illinois project is expected to capture about 500 tonnes of CO2 a day from an existing on-campus coal plant. Linde Group, BASF, Burns & McDonnell and Affiliated Engineers Inc. are partners.

A team, comprising the Electric Power Research Institute and WorleyParsons, is working on the University of Kentucky project, fabricating, installing and testing a carbon-capture system on an existing powerplant. Southern Co. will partner with AECOM and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America to improve existing solvent-based carbon-capture processes.