search
menu

Department of Energy-funded technology development projects

Barr’s commitment to solving our clients’ problems as if they were our own sometimes leads us to developing innovative ideas with our clients and partners. Our engineers and scientists help these teams bring theoretical concepts to practical application. We are currently working on several power-related technology projects funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, including the three efforts listed below.

Environmentally friendly hydropower technology

Hydropower dams are among the cleanest sources of energy, yet in some instances, the associated impounding of water has resulted in undesirable environmental impacts such as interrupting the natural movement of sediment transported by rivers, which can impact geomorphology, water quality, and aquatic habitat. Barr is teaming with the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL) – University of Minnesota, Utah State University, and Voigt Consultants to develop a sediment passage module that leverages hydrokinetic and suction (siphon) principles to continually capture incoming sediment and move it downstream of the dam structure throughout the expected hydrological cycle of high and low flows. The two-year effort will use SAFL’s research channel facilities and advanced numerical modeling capabilities to design and test a prototype, which will also benefit from input on advanced manufacturing by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Hybrid coal/gas combustion boiler concept with post-combustion carbon capture

Traditional coal-based power plants were designed for constant operation. However, as renewable energy sources become more cost effective and a larger part of energy production, coal-based generation will need greater flexibility to rapidly cycle on and off. Barr is teaming with Doosan Heavy Industries, Envergex, Microbeam Technologies, the University of North Dakota’s Institute of Energy Studies, and MLJ Consulting to develop a hybrid gas/coal concept (HGCC) power-plant design that focuses on achieving power generation with high-efficiency and load-cycling capability combined with carbon dioxide (CO2) capture. The concept includes an innovative coal-boiler firing design that reduces ramp-up time. 

Mitigation of alkali-promoted ash deposition and emissions from coal combustion

Fuels with high alkali concentrations, such as North Dakota lignites, create challenges in coal-fired power plants. These include slagging and fouling of surfaces—leading to lost steam production, increased soot blowing and boiler maintenance costs, and higher particulate emissions. Barr is working with the University of North Dakota, Envergex, Microbeam Technologies, and MLJ Consulting to develop a sorbent injection technology that captures vapor-phase alkali at the point of formation. The objective is to reduce operating costs by minimizing surface fouling by aerosol particles. Longer-range benefits would include reduced impact on carbon capture sorbents.