Modeling and performance analysis of subcritical and supercritical coal-fired power plants with biomass co-firing and CO2 capture

  • Dumitru CebruceanEmail author
  • Viorica Cebrucean
  • Ioana Ionel
Original Paper


Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into the atmosphere, and these emissions can be effectively reduced by improving the efficiency of the plants, co-firing sustainably grown biomass and applying carbon capture and storage technologies. In this study, the energy and environmental performances of both subcritical (SubC) and supercritical (SC) pulverized coal-fired power plants with biomass co-firing and integrated with an advanced amine-based postcombustion CO2 capture system were evaluated and compared. The impact of biomass (hybrid poplar) addition was investigated at different co-firing ratios varying up to 30% on a heat input basis. All plant configurations were modeled and simulated with Aspen Plus process simulation software. The results show that the use of a SC steam cycle has a positive impact on the energy and environmental performance of the investigated plants, improving the efficiency by 2.4% points and reducing the total fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 6% in comparison to those of the SubC cases. Biomass co-firing has a negative impact on the energy performance of plants while significantly reducing fossil-based carbon emissions. The reduction of net CO2 emissions is almost proportional to the biomass percentage in the feed. At 30% biomass co-firing, the net plant efficiency is reduced by approx. 1% point, while the net CO2 emissions are 28% lower than those in coal-fired only plants. The introduction of CO2 capture has a major impact both on the emissions generated and on the energy efficiency. Depending on the plant type and co-firing ratio used, the net plant efficiencies are 8.7–9.3% points lower than those of non-capture cases. The net CO2 emissions achieve negative values when carbon is captured from the biomass co-firing plants.

Graphic abstract


Postcombustion CO2 capture Advanced amine Biomass co-firing Pulverized coal combustion Subcritical and supercritical plants Energy and environmental performance Negative CO2 emissions Modeling and simulation 

List of symbols


Power (MW)


Mass flow rate (kg/s)


Efficiency (%)



Air preheater


Bottom/fly/total ash


Boiler feed pump


Boiler feed pump turbine




Balance of plant


Condensate pump


Cooling water




Forced draft


Flue gas


Flue gas desulfurization




Feedwater heater


Greenhouse gas


Higher/lower heating value (MJ/kg)




Induced draft


Low-NOx burner




Over-fire air


Primary air


Pulverized coal


Spray attemperator




Selective catalytic reduction


Steam turbine








Dry basis








The authors are grateful to anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10098_2019_1774_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (413 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 413 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dumitru Cebrucean
    • 1
    Email author
  • Viorica Cebrucean
    • 1
  • Ioana Ionel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical Machines, Equipments and TransportationPolitehnica University of TimisoaraTimisoaraRomania

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