One of the most pressing scientific challenges facing the United States and the world is reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Compounding that challenge is the fact that power plants burning fossil fuels account for more than 40 percent of the worlds energy-related CO2 emissions and will continue to dominate the supply of electricity until the middle of the century. There is an urgent need for cost-effective methods to capture and store the carbon emissions. The Department of Energy (DOE) is currently sponsoring large-scale demonstration projects to prove the viability of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). The principal barrier to widespread application of CCS is its cost. Once the CO2 is captured, compressing it to the required 100 atmospheres represents approximately 33 percent of the total cost of CCS. Ramgen Power Systems, LLC. is developing shock wave compression technology (turbomachinery operating in the supersonic relative flow regime) under a Department of Energy program, and industrial partnership with Dresser Rand. One goal is to reduce the cost of Carbon Dioxide compression for CCS. Ramgen has initiated testing of a 13,000-horsepower CO2 compressor, with an additional stage of ongoing technology development. This compressor is projected to reduce the capital costs of CO2 compression by 50 percent and produce a minimum of 25 percent savings in operating costs. Applying these cost savings to a new 400-megawatt clean coal plant would result in capital cost savings of approximately $22 million and an annual operating cost savings of approximately $5 million.
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