Bill Brown wanted to incubate something in the energy sector because of its potential for low-risk and high-yield. Miles Palmer had previously worked on a zero-emission project that burned coal in pure oxygen to produce concentrated carbon dioxide, but proved inefficient. Rodney Allam then pulled from 1930s Russian research the idea of replacing steam at a coal-burning plant with the output CO2, circulated at super-critical and gaseous stages. The technique would afford greater thermal control and replace energy-intensive compressors with pumps. But coal would have to first be converted to synthetic gas, which would release sulfur and mercury when burned. So, the engineers settled on working with natural gas and received $140 million in funding from Exelon and Chicago Bridge & Iron for the zero-emission, fossil-fuel NET Power demo plant, scheduled to fire up later this year. If all goes as planned, it will generate power at a cost competitive with high-tech natural gas plants.