Innovative Gas Separations for Carbon Capture

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Materials and Processes


The multi-disciplinary research teams collaborating in this proposal are all internationally leading groups which are at the forefront of research in the development of materials and processes for gas separations. The consortium will build upon its strengths in order to develop methodologies for the rapid synthesis and screening of novel materials and solvents for carbon capture from power stations. The research will focus on absorption, adsorption and membrane processes combining molecular modelling and advanced process modelling in order to develop reliable predictions of process performance. By 2030 up to 35 GW of new electricity generation capacity will be needed in the UK alone. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) will play a critical role in the production of a significant proportion of this electricity, enabling reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improving security of supply by maintaining a balanced mix of energy sources. Given the EU target of routine CCS deployment after 2020, and the fact that the UK has recently increased its target from 60% to 80% decarbonisation by 2050, it is now timely to establish high quality research consortia in this field. As pointed out in the Stern report, even in the best of possible scenarios more than 50% of the world energy will be from fossil fuels in 2050 and CCS could help reduce emissions from the flood of new coal-fired power stations planned over the next decades, especially in India and China . CCS at this scale can be economically viable only if current costs in carbon capture are reduced significantly through a concerted research and development programme, a goal toward which this proposal aims to contribute.
Description The Innovative Gas Separations for Carbon Capture (IGSCC) project consortium consisted of eight multi-disciplinary research groups from six academic institutions.

The groups investigated the design of new gas separation options and developed both new materials and novel modelling tools to predict the performance of carbon capture processes. The scientific results have been reported widely both in high impact international journals and conference proceedings (see ROS database).

Significant advances where made in understanding the design of nanoporous materials, either as adsorbents or membranes, with properties tailored to CO2 capture. Close collaboration between chemists and chemical engineers provided an excellent training environment for the PhD students involved in the project, as they were able to understand, through this collaboration, the wider context of their specific research acitvity.

The novel gas separations were tested against the current state-of-the-art carbon capture processes and to achieve this advanced detailed modelling simulations were developed which have formed the basis for several further projects.

The consortium held 6-monthly meetings with industrial colleagues to receive direct feedback on the progress of the research activity and to maximise the impact of the results. Over 20 companies, including major multinational groups, sent representatives to the meetings and received regular updates from the consortium.
Exploitation Route The close collaboration with industrialists has led to several application- focused projects (including those funded by the Energy Technologies Institute).

Novel materials developed in the project have led to patents and the software simulation tools are now being incorporated into commercial simulation packages. The IGSCC project has been the basis for the development of new research themes, which are currently being investigated as part of additional research project funded by EPSRC and other funding bodies.

Several new projects include as members the industrial colleagues who participated in the 6-monthly IGSCC meetings. This shows how successful the project has been, also in linking the research to its potential practical industrial application.

Each partner is active within the UK-CCS Research Centre and continues to contribute to the challenge of meeting the UK's requirements as set by the 2008 Climate Change Act.
Sectors Chemicals,Energy,Environment