Australia’s Callide Oxyfuel project has announced the start of the oxyfiring commissioning process, marking a milestone in this key R&D and demonstration site.

Project director Dr. Chris Spero said that for the first time, the Queensland-based coal-fired power station was being run in oxyfiring mode.

“This signals a major step forward for the project and the demonstration of how carbon capture technology can be integrated with existing coal-fired power stations,” Spero said, “commissioning is critical to ensuring all of the elements of electricity generation and the oxyfuel and carbon dioxide capture processes are safe and thoroughly tested”.

“We expect the oxyfuel boiler and carbon dioxide capture plant will be fully operational later this year,” added Spero. “More than 150 staff and contractors have worked over 400 000 hours during the construction and initial commissioning phases of the project.”

Callide is intended to demonstrate how carbon capture and storage technology can be applied to an existing coal-fired power plant. The first stage of the project focuses on capturing carbon dioxide produced during the coal-fired electricity generation processes and involves retrofitting oxyfuel technology to Callide A power station. The main aim will be to demonstrate the commercialisation of the technology.

“Demonstration projects such as the Callide Oxyfuel project are essential if we are to research, develop and test such leading edge technologies for future application at a commercial scale,” commented Spero.

The Callide Oxyfuel project is one of only a handful of coal-fired low emission projects in the world to move beyond concept into construction. Oxyfiring involves burning coal in a mixture of oxygen and re-circulated gases. Two air separation units produce pure oxygen which is mixed with re-circulated exhaust gases and fed into the power station’s boiler. Burning coal in this mixture generates the same amount of electricity, but the by-product is a concentrated stream of carbon dioxide that can be easily captured.