The market for hoses and couplings in the power industry will grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 2% over the next 30 years. It is predicted that this already massive market will increase further as the innovation needed to reach the net zero CO2 initiative occurs. This in turn will require coal and nuclear plants to allocate more spending to hose technologies.
By Robert McIlvaine, President & Founder, The McIlvaine Company
Hoses and Couplings Innovation Within Power Plants
The International Energy Agency (IEA) intends to reach global net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. To achieve this, the energy industry needs to make some serious changes, namely to the kinds of technologies used within power plants.
Hose and coupling purchases for a wind or solar plant are smaller than those required for a coal plant. Since the projected capacity for wind and solar is large and the projected capacity increases for coal and nuclear plants are modest, it seems logical that the market for power plant hoses and couplings will be unattractive compared to other market opportunities – but this is not the case.
Instead, this market will become incredibly attractive. This is in part because of the already extensive size of the hose and coupling market — though the need for process innovation and improved technologies will also contribute to higher hose and coupling expenditures within power plants. This is especially true for coal-based power plants.
Hoses and Couplings Innovation
Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is a promising future for the power industry, specifically coal processing plants. The carbon removal technique extracts bioenergy and biomass to remove carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. This technique is not only workable and valid, but also cost-effective.
The technologies necessary to provide high-capacity factor electricity for this geo-engineering technique however, require lots of hoses and couplings. This is true of a number of diverse power technologies, though BECCS and hydrogen require more hoses and couplings than other power generation options. This is illustrated on a comparison per kW, see Figure 2.
BECCS has twice the CO2 reduction impact of nuclear due to removal of CO2 from the air prior to burning and sequestration. Solar and wind have a smaller impact on a net CO2 reduction basis per GW due to their lower capacity factors.
Hoses and Couplings Hydrogen Power Technology
In a green hydrogen plant hose and couplings are required for the purification and transport of water to the electrolyzer, a system used to separate hydrogen and oxygen atoms in H2O.
Blue hydrogen, which is derived from methane in natural gas, requires ample hoses and couplings due to the carbon capture and sequestration processes. LifeGuard Technologies has introduced, and filed, patent protection for a new multidiameter 24,000 psi burst pressure ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) tube and stainless steel braid hose assembly (1/4” and 1/2” diameter). This patent incorporates LifeGuard’s safety hose technology for use with hydrogen and helium. The new hose offers the industrial hose and petrochemical industry a hose which combines ultra-high-pressure functionality with the minimal effusion and flexibility of a polymer-based hose.
Hoses and Couplings in BECCS Power Technology
Hoses and couplings are essential to the entire BECCS bioengineering process, starting the at the wood pellet plant. Hoses are used in both the processes of size reduction and pelletizing of the wood, and reducing stack emissions from the pelletizing operation using scrubbers. Once processed, the wood pellets are shipped to a power plant where they substitute for coal as the fuel.
If it is a coal-fired plant such as Drax in North Yorkshire, England, there are several types of hoses and couplings that are essential to energy production. This includes hoses and couplings used to manage the boiler feed, water intake, and cooling.
Within BECCS power technology, hoses and couplings are used to control air and water pollution, including in the flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) systems. Additionally, carbon capture technology utilizes another set of hoses and couplings, including for the amine absorber pumps, which absorbs hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide to convert sour gas into sweetened gas.
Once captured, the CO2 must be transported to a permanent storage site. Currently, the most economical method for transporting large volumes of CO2 is via pipeline. To make this possible, the CO2 is converted into a high-pressure, super-critical fluid called dense phase. In this phase the CO2 behaves more like a liquid than a gas, allowing it to be pumped.
*The tipping point worry phenomena occurs when global temperatures exceed a critical threshold, causing advanced and irreversible environmental damage.
One method of CO2 sequestration involves injection into geological reservoirs. The most economically viable of these is enhanced oil recovery (EOR), where CO2 is injected into active oil fields to increase production. The gas can also be injected into unusable saline aquifers and depleted oil and natural gas reservoirs. Regardless of the method, there are many uses for hoses and couplings in these processes.
The Advantages of BECCS
BECCS has a number of advantages. The most obvious is that it is carbon negative. If all the coal-fired plants in the world were converted to BECCS, global CO2 levels could be reduced. This option eliminates the tipping point worry.*
Another advantage is the cost. The only other carbon negative technology is Direct Air Capture. The cost of this option, however, is quite high. BECCS, on the other hand, can utilize existing coal plant steam generators and pollution control systems. The major capital cost is in the actual carbon capture and sequestration process.
The biggest advantage of BECCS is the potential of utilizing a staged approach, or the easy, slow implementation of BECCS processes in existing coal plants. The stages to implement BECCS are as follows:
• Co firing biomass at existing coal plants.
• Complete conversion to biomass.
• Partial carbon capture and sequestration or usage.
• Full carbon capture and sequestration or usage.
The Drax power plant in the UK is already moving from stage to stage. Though they are now at stage two, engineering and construction is underway for stage three.
This flexible approach is very desirable due to the uncertainties about CO2 impacts. The program can be accelerated if some of the more dire predictions materialize. The net zero program will result in modest growth in the market for power plant hose and couplings over the next 30 years.