Power Systems Development Facility

Helping to Meet the Nation’s Energy Needs

Inducted in 2011

The Power Systems Development Facility leads the United States’ efforts to develop coal-based-power-plant technologies that are cleaner, less expensive and more environmentally acceptable. Established in 1995, the facility is a unique research and development center designed to test, evaluate and accelerate the deployment of advanced coal-based power system components and technologies.

As an engineering-scale-demonstration facility, the PSDF studies advanced coal-fired power systems and high-temperature, high-pressure gas-filtration systems. The facility is designed at a size large enough that system components can be evaluated and assessed in an integrated fashion to provide data for commercial scale-up. When compared with the costs of building stand-alone facilities for each of the technologies used at the PSDF, construction at this single site has saved more than $32 million. The PSDF is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Southern Co., the Electric Power Research Institute, and other companies and organizations across the energy sector. It is managed and operated by Southern Co.

The facility, located in Wilsonville, Ala., employs 124 full-time Southern Co. and Alabama Power personnel. There are 172 other positions filled by construction labor brokers and other subcontractor employees.

The PSDF developed the Transport Gasifier, which was selected for commercial deployment through the Department of Energy’s Clean Coal Power Initiative in record time. PSDF and DOE’s private-public-collaboration efforts introduced the Transport Integrated Gasification, or TRIG, process to the commercial marketplace. The first U.S. commercial application of TRIG, in Kemper County, Miss., will lead the way to lower-carbon electricity production. The 582-megawatt Mississippi Power plant is expected to begin operation by 2014. In China, the Dongguan TMEP Facility will add TRIG to an existing gas-turbine-combined-cycle plant so that it can use clean, synthetic gas from coal as its fuel for generating electricity, rather than fuel oil. The plant will prove that TRIG offers an effective solution to China’s energy needs.

The facility has also developed coal-feed systems and continuous ash-removal systems. In addition, PSDF has improved the performance and availability of hot-gas filtration and syngas cooling.

In order to meet growing demand for electricity, coal will continue to supply a large portion of the nation’s electricity needs. Future coal systems must become increasingly clean and more efficient for the United States to fully realize the potential of its most abundant fossil fuel. The PSDF gives U.S. industry the world’s most cost-effective, flexible test center for evaluating the critical components of tomorrow’s coal-based-power-generating systems.

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