Power production at Xcel Energy's Hayden Generating Station just got a little greener.
Hayden Station is the site of an emissions reduction and efficiency pilot program, and preliminary results from the ongoing project show Xcel Energy's efforts are paying off.
Xcel officials say the plant is producing the lowest levels of coal waste products in its operating history, and emissions of the atmospheric pollutant nitrogen oxide are decreasing.
"We are seeing some reductions in carbon dioxide and NOx," Xcel Energy spokesman Mark Stutz said.
When coal is burned at plants such as Hayden Station, waste products called slagging and fouling are produced.
The presence of slag in the boilers hurts efficiency, requiring more and more coal to be burned to produce the same amount of electricity, officials said. Not only must more coal be used, but plants must occasionally shut down so the waste products can be cleaned out.
Xcel officials say the waste produced at coal-powered plants increases costs for the company and its consumers, not to mention the harmful effect on the environment.
Hayden Station has been testing a new software platform, developed by Xcel Energy and GE Energy's Optimization and Control Division, designed to reduce the negative effects of coal's waste products.
The software uses boiler sensors and historical data to recommend operational changes that will increase efficiency, reduce emissions, limit slag production and reduce full and partial plant outages.
"We envision a clean energy future, and because of that, we're working to change the way we make and deliver energy to our customers," Xcel Energy vice president of operation Lou Matis said in a statement.
The new optimization system has been undergoing testing at Hayden Station since July, and the pilot project is expected to continue into December.
"If it is successful, we would look to reproduce it at plants similar to the Hayden Station," Stutz said.