FOCUS - Fundamentals of Optimised Capture Using Solids

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Engineering


We aim to establish a formal collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and North China Electric Power University to build upon the research excellence in carbon capture at both institutions, and to develop a novel process based on circulating new solid materials that will take up CO2 from fossil fuel combustion products and then release it as a pure stream that can be compressed and stored. The target is to reduce the energy requirement for capturing CO2 by 25-50% compared to current technologies, a significant reduction in additional fuel use and hence costs. The objectives of this research programme are to:1. Establish a vigorous collaboration between leading UK and Chinese research groups in the development of carbon capture technologies.2. Develop novel solids that take up CO2 by a combination of physical and chemical processes.3. Advance the understanding of ways in which these particles can be moved around in CO2 capture units attached to power stations4. Establish ways to combine experimental results and modelling at plant scale down to minute pore scale to obtain reliable modelling predictions for capture units5. Predict the performance of these novel carbon capture processes when they are added on to coal fired power stations operating in a realistic wayFor objective 2 different types of silicas as well as different amines will be developed as materials for CO2 adsorption at NCEPU. Their stability will be evaluated by thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) at the UoE. Samples of adsorbents will be ranked in terms of CO2 capacity using the rapid screening technique based on the zero length column (ZLC) method developed at the UoE as part of US-DOE and EPSRC-funded research. The technique needs only 10 mg of adsorbent and is therefore ideal for the early stages of development. The group at the UoE will host a researcher from NCEPU for a month to provide training and give assistance so that a similar system can be implemented at NCEPU. At NCEPU the pelletised materials will be used to generate breakthrough curves using CO2/N2 mixtures with and without water. These experiments will also be used to evaluate the potential for regeneration of the adsorbent using a purge stream which would significantly reduce the energy consumption for the process. Repeated adsorption/desorption cycles will be used to evaluate the stability of the materials over time. In 3, in order to be able to understand fully the performance of circulating fluidised beds of the novel capture materials UoE will perform solid circulation rate and gas tracer residence-time experiments using air as the fluidising gas, and resins, sand and adsorbent pellets for the particles. To gain further detailed insight into particle flows, the CFBs will be tested at the Positron Emission Particle Tracking (PEPT) facility in Birmingham. The detailed experimental results will form the basis for testing computational fluid dynamic (CFD) models developed at NCEPU and the UoE.To meet objective 4 NCEPU and the UoE will collaborate on extending large-scale computer particle flow modelling to include the effect of changes in the density of the particles due to adsorption and desorption. The resulting CFD code will be tested on the individual sections to evaluate the ability to describe the different flow regimes. A very small scale model for the description of combined mass and heat transfer in the adsorbent materials will be implemented and used to interpret the kinetic ZLC experiments. These models will then be combined to evaluate which capture equipment configuration works best in terms of separation efficiency and energy requirements. Throughout the project in order to meet objective 5 the work on the novel adsorption process will be coupled to work on novel power plant integration concepts. Both Chinese and UK partners have extensive power industry experience and can ensure that the research is relevant for real applications.

Planned Impact

Addressing CO2 emissions from coal and other fossil power plants using CCS will benefit countries with economies that rely heavily on coal, such as China, India and South Africa. The improved CO2 capture concepts, which this project will research, will help them to reduce their emissions in the future at a lower economic cost. The UK's will be helped to meet its objectives of global climate change mitigation as well as for electricity decarbonisation and fuel diversity. Policy makers planning for CCS development worldwide will also benefit from early insights into the fundamental capability of new capture technologies for power plants, as will power plant investors who need to make current plants 'CCS ready' for new capture technologies that will be applied in the future. Better CCS ready information is of immediate value to help save new power plants turning into stranded assets that cannot use the latest technology in the future. Industrial and academic workers developing, building and operating CO2 capture equipment will benefit from the improved fundamental scientific knowledge of the design of new adsorbent materials and detailed fluid-dynamics of fast circulating fluidised beds, which are needed to improve carbon capture options and ways in which these can be applied effectively. The CCS community will benefit also from the new trained personnel and other experience that this project will generate. Electricity consumers will benefit from reduced costs of future decarbonised electricity supplies in the future. The applicants have already worked closely together on the China/UK Near Zero Emission Coal (NZEC) project. Prof. Gibbins is a member of the DECC Advisory Committee on Carbon Abatement Technology, Prof. Zhang has contributed as an expert to drafting the Twelfth Five-Year Plan of Advanced Energy Strategy Program of MOST in China and members of the team have also acted in a formal and informal advisory capacity to policymakers.To ensure that policymakers and power plant investors benefit, the FOCUS project will prepare and communicate directly: a) A Summary for Policy makers published as circulated paper documents in both Chinese and English languages. b) Project workshops for policymakers in China and the UK in mid to late 2013 c) An assessment of the implications of the results of the project for new ways plants might need to be made capture ready as a briefing note for DECC, the EA and SEPA and for power plant investors, as state-of-the-art summaries in 2011, 2012, 2013. The main route for communication with industrial and academic workers developing, building and operating CO2 capture equipment will be publications in the scientific literature and presentations at major international conferences, reinforced by summaries and links for the same material on university web sites. A number of detailed PhD theses will also be produced as part of the project, with two more skilled CCS researchers produced in the UK. The applicants also have long-standing links with UK and Chinese industry working in this area and will organise workshops for industry and academic researchers in the UK and China respectively near the end of the project. These might conveniently take the form of open seminars attached to a 6 monthly meeting of the UK CCSC Network in English (tentatively scheduled for Sep 2012 or Mar 2013) and of the Low-Carbon China Network in Chinese. NCEPU is also the top Chinese in the electric power area, and was set up by the State Grid Corporation and other seven power companies, which are represented in its board of directors. Electricity consumers' interests will be partially covered by the above, but more specifically the results of the work and in particular its likely impact on future CCS costs will also be communicated to Ofgem in the UK by the prepared documents and personal contacts as appropriate and to the Huaneng Group in China.


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Description Materials developed at North China Electric Power University were tested and evaluated for carbon capture applications using circulating fluidized beds developed at the University of Edinburgh.
Models to predict the performance of this novel carbon capture technology have been developed and used to evaluate the efficiency of an integrated system in Chinese coal fired power plants.
Exploitation Route The novel processes and materials are being further developed toward practical testing at pilot plant scale.
Sectors Energy,Environment

Description This project has reinforced our strong links with the Chinese partners at North China Electric Power University. This collaboration has been highlighted by RCUK in the biennial strategic meetings on cooperation with China.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Energy,Environment
Impact Types Policy & public services