This paper discusses novel schemes of combined cycle, where natural gas is chemically treated to remove carbon, rather than being directly used as fuel. Carbon conversion to CO2 is achieved before gas turbine combustion. Therefore CO2 can be removed from fuel (rather than from exhausts, thus utilizing less demanding equipment) and made available for long-term storage, to avoid dispersion toward the atmosphere and the consequent contribution to the greenhouse effect.
The strategy here proposed to achieve this goal is natural gas partial oxidation. The second part of the paper will address steam / methane reforming. Partial oxidation is an exothermic oxygen-poor combustion devoted to CO and H2 production. The reaction products are introduced in a multiple stage shift reactor converting CO to CO2. Carbon dioxide is removed by means of physical or chemical absorption processes and made available for storage, after compression and liquefaction. The resulting fuel mainly consists of hydrogen and nitrogen, thus gas turbine exhausts are virtually devoid of CO2.
The paper discusses the selection of some important parameters necessary to obtain a sufficient level of conversion in the various reactors (temperature and pressure levels, methane-to-air or methane-to-steam ratios) and their impact on the plant integration and on the thermodynamic efficiency. Overall performance (efficiency, power output and carbon removal rate) is predicted by means of a computational tool developed by the authors. The results show that a net efficiency of 48.5%, with a 90% CO2 removal, can be obtained by combined cycles based on large heavy duty machines of the present technological status, either by using chemical or physical absorption.