Alstom and The Dow Chemical Company say that they hope to prove that coal can be a viable sustainable source of energy through the construction and operation of a pilot carbon capture project in the US.

The two companies have announced plans to build a pilot plant at a site in South Charleston, West Virginia, capturing approximately 1800 tons per year of CO2 from the flue gas of a coal-fired boiler. The plant is expected to be operational by 3Q 2009.

Alstom and Dow have been collaborating in the development of CO2 capture technology since early 2008 when they signed a joint development agreement. In late 2008 Alstom announced plans to implement carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at a plant in Poland.

In the USA, Alstom will design, construct and operate the pilot plant, which will use advanced amine scrubbing technology to remove CO2 from the flue gas. Dow will provide the site and utilities, as well as the chemicals and its amine technology expertise for this project.

“We are thrilled to be part of this groundbreaking project in CO2 capture,” said Janet Giesselman, President and General Manager of Dow Oil & Gas. “This technology has immense potential – for the local community, industry, environment and our business. Developing advanced amine technology will provide sustainable energy solutions now and into the future.”

“Coal, which represents over two thirds of the world’s power generation, is and will continue to be an essential part of the world’s energy mix,” said Philippe Joubert, Alstom Executive Vice President and President of Alstom Power. “But only by reducing its CO2 output can coal remain a viable source of power generation. Our cooperation with Dow further demonstrates our leadership and commitment in this field, as well as providing the validation we need to launch our amine-based CO2 capture technology on a commercial scale.”

The Virginia pilot plant will validate Alstom’s and Dow’s new amine-based scrubbing technology for flue gases containing CO2 and high levels of oxygen. The new process “will significantly reduce the amount of energy required for CO2 separation and capture”, according to the companies.

All the coal used in the pilot will be sources locally in West Virginia.