Innovative Adsorbent Materials and Processes for Integrated Carbon Capture and Multi-pollutant Control for Fossil Fuel Power Generation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Research and Graduate Services


Coal is currently responsible for 40% of global electricity generation, which is increasing, largely due to the expanding economies of Asia, particularly China where a new coal-fired power station comes on stream every week. Indeed, it is generally recognised that the long-term future of coal for power generation must be linked to the drive towards near-zero emission power plant, with Lord Stern stating recently We need to get better at carbon capture and sequestration very quickly . To address this challenge, the proposed collaborative research programme aims to aid the development of new approaches to integrate carbon capture and multi-pollutant control technologies in pulverised fuel (PF) coal combustion to achieve near zero emissions more effectively. These technologies are based on a range of novel regenerable adsorbent materials being developed by the partners, which are capable of achieving the simultaneous removal of SOx, NOx, HCl, HF, and toxic metals, particularly mercury. This will be achieved either immediately prior to CO2 capture or simultaneously in CO2 capture through the successful development and integration of the novel sorbent materials to provide high purity CO2 streams ready for compression. The overall aim of the proposed collaborative research programme is to conduct the underpinning research to accelerate the development and demonstration of novel integrated carbon capture & simultaneous multi-pollutant control technologies, with the ultimate goal of reducing the cost of near zero emission coal plant considerably so that the new technologies can impact of the implementation of the next generation of carbon capture plants in the 2020s after the first demonstrations and commercial deployment with existing technology being achieved by 2020. Further, the new technologies can also be easily adapted to various scales of other coal-fired industrial boilers across China.The proposal builds upon a series of earlier UK-China collaborative activities organised and/or attended by the 5 partners and produces synergies between the complimentary R & D strengths of internationally leading UK and Chinese institutions in clean coal technology. The UK partners have visited China recently to identify areas and opportunities for collaboration and these visits include Prof. Guo, Prof. Snape, Dr Sun and Dr Liu to NSFC, MOST CAS and Southeast University, as well as and Chinese energy industries. Indeed, the current research funding obtained by the Chinese partners for next 5 years is in excess of RMB 50M under the CAS, NSFC, 863 and 973 Programmes, which will underpin their activities in the research programme as confirmed in the letters of support. Major collaborative activities include extensive materials development encompassing characterisation and modelling, understanding their performance at scale and also addressing all the underlying critical fundamental issues associated with materials and process development. Examples to demonstrate the two way exchange of ideas, the close working relationships and the mutual benefits that will be obtained include: (i) A range of advanced materials, including grafted nano-porous materials and carbon composite materials and carbon/metal oxides hybrid materials will be exchanged between ICC-CAS, Nottingham, UCL and Tsinghua to facilitate full characterisation and modelling of their absorption performance and selected new materials will be synthesised to gain an understanding of their performance at scale over realistic lifetimes in the facilities at Tsinghua and Southeast Universities. (ii) The flexible manganese oxides developed at Nottingham will be circulated to other partners for identifying other applications, including trapping arsenic and,, then prepared at scale for lifetime and regeneration tests in the pilot facilities at ICC-CAS, Tsinghua and Southeast Universities.


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Description The significant breakthroughs of the research funded by this grant are:

1. For post-combustion CO2 capture, silica-polyethylene adsorbents prepared on a kilogram scale were found to be extremely stable over long operating periods in simulated flue gas, The key is keeping the adsorbent hydrated during adsorption to prevent oxidation and desorption to prevent urea formation. It was also demonstrated tat silica-PEI is suitable for capture CO2 from air.

2. A new class of manganese oxides have been developed for Hg capture from gases which can be applied to a wide range range of process, including both combustion and gasification of coal.
Exploitation Route The publications form this grant are widely cited and our key developments on silica-PEI adsorbents for CO2 capture and manganese oxides adsorbents for Hg capture have been the springboard for further research on these materials. The research has led to further funding, for example form the Korean Institute of Energy, to scale-up the preparation of silica-PEI to 100 kg. Funding has also been secured for a pilot-scale facility to test 20 kg batches of adsorbents.
Sectors Energy

Description The findings of this project have had a significant impact on the development of solid adsorbents as a next generation technology for post combustion CO2 capture. Both silica-polyethylene-imine and potassium (K) containing activated carbons developed in this project can be prepared in large batches for future pilot-scale projects. Analysis has shown that both systems give vast reductions in regeneration energy compared to amine scrubbing with the K-containing activated carbons being optimal for flue gas from coal-fired power stations and industrial sources contain 15% by volume of CO2 or more.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Energy
Impact Types Societal,Economic

Description Korean Government
Amount ₩240,000,000 (KRW)
Organisation Korea Institute of Energy Research 
Sector Academic/University
Country Korea, Republic of
Start 09/2015 
End 08/2018
Description Joint University of Nottingham-Shanghai Advanced Research Institute (SARI ) Low Carbon Energy Research Centre 
Organisation Chinese Academy of Sciences
Department Shanghai Advanced Research Institute (SARI)
Country China 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Since 2009, Nottingham and SARI have collaborated on two EPSRC China grants on developing new adsorbents for CO2 capture, both for post and pre-combustion. The research has resulted in a number of joint publications and has led to Colin Snape being appointed as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at SARI in January 2014 and to the signing MoU signed in September 2014 for joint development of adsorbent technology for CO2 capture, leading to the formation of the Joint Centre in 2015. Nottingham is covering the costs of researchers visiting SARI to taker forward collaborative research on CO2 capture, biomass/waste conversion with microwave technology
Collaborator Contribution Covering the costs to send researchers to the University of Nottingham to work on collaborative research.
Impact Joint publications already listed.
Start Year 2015