Abbott Produces Power… and Data

In March 2021, Dr. Mohamed Attalla, executive director of F&S, presented a paper at the 15th International Conference on Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies (GHGT-15) on the vital role of Abbott Power Plant on campus, not just as an energy generation facility, but as a place that embraces current and future research collaborations.
From l-r, Dr. Yongqi Lu, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, Dr. Mohamed Attalla, F&S executive director, and Mike Larson, F&S associate director of utilities production outside of Abbott Power Plant.

Dr. Attalla was a co-Principal Investigator for Enabling Technology Maturation in Carbon Capture: The Role of a University Based Power Plant as a Test Facility, along with others from F&S and researchers with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. The research team included Dr. Kevin O’Brien, Dr. Yongqi Lu, Stephanie Brownstein, and Jim Dexter from the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, as well as Morgan White, Rob Roman, and Mike Larson from F&S. How Abbott generates power makes it not just important to the rest of campus as a cogeneration operator (producing heat and power); its location on campus and relation to renewable campus assets allow Abbott to be the destination for multiple testing technologies. The site’s Technology Readiness Level (TRL), a metric used to determine how well a site can host an academic study, is high enough for multiple cases – the range of TRL is measured from 1 to 11.

As noted in the paper, Abbott has “gained a reputation amongst power plants within the state and region as a ‘test bed’ for emission reduction technologies.” In one study, Abbott hosted testing of a transformational biphasic solvent CO2 absorption process. In that process, the site’s TRL increased from 1 to 5. The site can host a wide range of TRLs of technologies.

Abbott Power Plant and University of Illinois Grid

Abbott combines renewables with coal and natural gas assets

While testing the effectiveness of aerosol mitigation, the research team found that certain concentration levels and individual sizes of particulates in the air do not necessitate a pre-treatment system. Another study will use a “mixed salt process” (MSP) to capture CO2 from entering the earth’s atmosphere.

Abbott has a wide range of advantages to hosting multiple academic collaborations.

“The reputation of Abbott as a non-biased evaluator of technologies, its ability to aid in workforce development and education, along with its outreach to the local community enables the plant to further the education of the future workforce and to educate stakeholders on future trends in the power industry,” the paper concluded.

Abbott will continue to be home to not just production, but act as a home for varying levels of academic investigation.