Chemical-Looping Combustion (CLC) is a process where fuel oxidation is carried out through an intermediate agent — a metal oxide — circulated across two fluidized bed reactors: a reduction reactor, where an endothermic reaction reduces the metal oxide and oxidizes the fuel, and an oxidation reactor, where an exothermic reaction oxidizes the metal oxide in air. Overall, the system carries out the same job of a conventional combustor, with the fundamental advantage of segregating the oxidation products (CO2 and H2O) into an output flow free of nitrogen and excess oxygen. The flow exiting the reduction reactor consists of water and CO2, the latter readily available for liquefaction, transport and long-term storage. The hot, vitiated air from the oxidation reactor is the means to produce power through a thermodynamic cycle. This paper reports of a study supported by the ENI group to assess the potential of the integration between CLC and combined gas-steam power cycles. More specifically, we focus on four issues: (i) optimization of plant configuration; (ii) prediction of overall efficiency; (iii) use of commercial gas turbines; (iv) preliminary economic estimates. The CLC system is based on iron oxides which, to maintain their physical characteristics, must operate below 900–1000°C. Given the crucial importance of the temperature of the vitiated air generated by CLC on the performance of the combined cycle, we consider two options: (i) “unfired” systems, where natural gas is fed only to the CLC system, (ii) “fired” systems, where the vitiated air is supplementary fired to reach gas turbine inlet temperatures ranging 1000–1200°C. Results show that unfired configurations with maximum process temperature 850–1050°C and zero emissions reach net LHV plant efficiencies ranging 43–48%. Fired cycles where temperature is raised from 850 to 1200°C by supplementary firing can achieve 52% net LHV efficiency with CO2 emission about one half of those of a state-of-the-art combined cycles. Fired configurations allow significant capital cost and fuel cost savings compared to unfired configurations; however, a carbon tax high enough to make them attractive (close to 50 €/ton) would undermine these advantages.

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