Alliant Energy1 initially created the SmartBurn® group in the late 1990’s to develop high level combustion expertise for its coal-fired power plants. The industry expected that power markets would be fully deregulated and the most competitive power plants would be those that were the most efficient and those that could burn the widest variety of lower cost coals. The group was initially called the "Combustion Initiative"; and was at the center of Alliant Energy’s research and development efforts to improve plant efficiency and combustion performance.
The initial success of the Combustion Initiative in reducing NOx to 0.15 lb/MMBtu or less using only combustion optimization for mid-merit pulverized coal units was best-in-class performance at the time. Alliant Energy moved the group to its unregulated subsidiary RMT, Inc. (RMT) in 2002 and renamed it "SmartBurn®", so that the technical capabilities of the group could be commercialized.
SmartBurn® continued providing support to several Alliant Energy power plants after the move to RMT. At the same time that NOx emissions were reduced, Alliant Energy’s Lansing, Kapp and Edgewater generating facilities - where a series of SmartBurn® projects have been implemented - were recognized by the Electric Utility Cost Group (EUCG) as 2007 "Best Performers". Several of the units were repeat winners and "top 5" plants in subsequent years, demonstrating that low cost performance and leading environmental performance can be sustained over time.
After approximately nine years as part of RMT, SmartBurn® management purchased the business in 2011. SmartBurn, LLC is now an independent consultancy with international clients including independent power producers, regulated utilities, generating and transmission cooperatives, and others. Led by Dr. Pisi Lu, SmartBurn continues to provide customized technical services to the worldwide utility industry by serving clients that utilize a wide range of fuels such as coal, oil natural gas, biofuels and synthetic fuels.
1Alliant Energy, headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin, is a regulated, investor-owned public utility holding company providing electric and natural gas service to approximately one million electric and 400,000 natural gas customers in the upper Midwestern states of Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Alliant Energy is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "LNT".