Project Synopsis

Subcontracted process engineering support on a new CO2CO2 capture pilot plant project encompassing design, procurement, installation, and startup activities. Read USA Today article on this project and a subsequent News Article discussing the plant operation results.

Project Summary


The client, a detail engineering company, was contracted by the ultimate client, a power plant technology provider, to design a CO2 capture pilot plant.  The ultimate client had developed a new process for capturing CO2 emissions from flue gas streams in power plants using ammonia (NH3) and needed to design and build a demonstration plant (pilot plant) to prove their technology.  Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) was contracted by the client to handle the process engineering portions of the project encompassing design, procurement, installation, and startup activities.  Major tasks involved in this project included:

  • P&ID development and generation.
  • Equipment detailed specification and data sheet preparation for all equipment in the CO2 capture portion of the pilot plant.  This equipment included packed bed columns, cooling towers, chiller, tanks, hydrocyclone, gas cooler, plate and frame heat exchangers, pumps, and fans.
  • Equipment procurement assistance with vendor bid analysis and vendor document reviews.
  • Control philosophy development and assistance with controls design.
  • Development of start-up, shutdown, and water batch procedures for the plant.
  • Remote start-up assistance.
  • Integration of the two primary sections of the plant.
  • Process Hazards Analysis for the entire plant, and completion of action items from this review.
  • Project engineering assistance.

The ultimate client provided incomplete PFDs and mass and energy balance information for their new technology.  PROCESS performed calculations and computer process simulations of various aspects of the Absorption plant, as needed, to develop and verify missing or incomplete information. All equipment was designed with a 20% tolerance for the parameters provided (with the exception of the pumps and chiller, which used a 10% tolerance) to accommodate uncertainties in the design information.

The ultimate client did not have a clear idea of how to control the plant, because this was the first plant built using this technology.  PROCESS worked closely with the technology experts to determine the control philosophy and to design controls accordingly.

The ultimate client split the plant up into two sections at the beginning of the project that they referred to as the Absorption or low pressure area and the Regeneration or high pressure area.  Absorption was given to the client and PROCESS to design, and the Regeneration area was completed by another engineering firm.  PROCESS was responsible for the integration of the two sections of the plant.  PROCESS was also involved in design reviews with the engineering firm working on Regeneration.  Information exchange was necessary in order to complete all sections of the plant where Absorption and Regeneration connect.  PROCESS was responsible for combining PFDs and P&IDs from Absorption and Regeneration into one comprehensive set for field use and use by the ultimate client.

The project was executed on a very aggressive schedule.  Work on Absorption was started in mid-April 2007 with incomplete PFDs, and the Absorption area was commissioned in mid-November, 2007.  The Regeneration area was less developed than Absorption and is expected to start up in April, 2008.  Many engineering decisions were made with the understanding that schedule was the most important factor in the project and that the plant itself would only operate for 12 – 18 months.

The plant was started up with minimal problems, especially true in the Absorption section. The ultimate client has reported a very successful 99% capture rate of CO2.

Industry Type

  • Power Generation

Utilized Skills

  • Process design
  • Project management assistance
  • New technology pilot-plant design
  • Multi-Firm engineering team cooperation

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