NeuCo - The Optimization Standard

Department of Energy Projects

NeuCo and the Department of Energy (“DOE”) are partnering to bring to market software solutions that serve DOE’s strategic goal of ensuring that US generators can produce abundant, reliable and affordable electricity in an environmentally-friendly way. This is being done through the Clean Coal Power Initiative (CCPI), a ten-year, $2 billion initiative to demonstrate advanced coal-based power generation technologies in the field that could help meet President Bush’s “Clear Skies and Climate Change” directive to reduce power plant emissions by about 70 percent by 2018.

NeuCo has been involved in two projects: CCPI Round 1 “The Demonstration of Integrated Optimization Software,” with Dynegy, Inc., and Round 2 “Mercury Specie and Multi-Pollutant Control Project,” with NRG Texas.

CCPI Round 1

The four-year, $19 million cost-shared power plant optimization project was awarded to NeuCo, Inc. in 2004 and was completed in December 2007. It encompassed the design, development and demonstration of separate but integrated online optimization systems at Dynegy’s three-unit 1800-MW Baldwin Energy Complex (BEC) in Baldwin, Illinois. These software products were developed to optimize the combustion and soot blowing processes, reduce the ammonia consumed by selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems, and improve unit thermal performance and plant-wide availability.

Over the course of this project, NeuCo installed and refined five real-time, closed-loop process optimizers that address combustion, sootblowing and SCR operations, overall unit thermal performance and plant-wide economic optimization at all three Baldwin units – two cyclones and one T-fired boiler. This installation represented the first time multiple optimization software modules of this breadth were integrated into a computerized process network in a coal-fired power plant.

The project was the first CCPI project to reach successful conclusion. Quantitative project benefits included: reduced nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 12-14 percent; improved average heat rate (fuel efficiency) by 0.7 percent; increased available megawatt hours by an estimated 1.5 percent; reduced ammonia (NH3) consumption by 15-20 percent on a unit with SCR; commensurate reductions in greenhouse gases, mercury and particulates; and commensurate economic benefits from lower costs, improved reliability and greater commercial availability.  The suite of four integrated optimizers commercialized as part of this project are expected to yield under a one-year payback for average sized units across all unit types and fuel categories comprising the U.S. fossil power industry. The savings benefits available to the industry are estimated between $2.3 and $2.6 billion dollars per year. For more details, click here.

CCPI Round 2

The second round of the CCPI Project officially concluded in May 2010 with the publishing of NeuCo’s final technical report by the DOE.  Titled “Mercury Specie and Multi-Pollutant Control”, this four-year, $15.5 million cost-sharing deal demonstrated the ability to affect and optimize mercury speciation and multi-pollutant control using non-intrusive advanced sensor and optimization technologies to minimize emissions, maximize efficiency and manage by-products at the NRG Limestone Plant in Jewett, TX. 

Analysis completed during the project showed NOx reductions of more than 16%, with a commensurate reduction in total mercury emissions. Other benefits included a 24% reduction in CO and a 0.15% boiler efficiency improvement. Operating flexibility is also a significant part of the optimization story, in that the host unit was able to significantly change its fuel blend, while also gaining improved control over combustion and heat transfer processes.  In addition, Losses Efficiency shows an improvement of 0.5%, with a heat rate improvement of between 0.52% and 1.2%. NeuCo’s anomaly detection components (MaintenanceOpt) have made several important catches to date, including Boiler Feed Pump Turbine, Main Turbine, PA Fan Bearing, and FWH DCA issues.

The Limestone plant is currently operating with all optimization systems in place (CombustionOpt, SootOpt, MaintenanceOpt and PerformanceOpt and mercury optimization). For more details, click here.

To learn more about NeuCo's Department of Energy projects, please visit the National Energy Technology Laboratory's website highlighting the  CCPI projects.