Versatile Adsorption Processes for the Capture of Carbon Dioxide from Industrial Sources - FlexICCS

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

Abstract

The 2008 Climate Change Act sets a legally binding target of 80% CO2 emissions reductions by 2050. This target will require nearly complete decarbonisation of large and medium scale emitters. While the power sector has the option of shifting to low carbon systems (renewables and nuclear), for industrial emissions, which will account for 45% of global emissions, the solution has to be based on developing more efficient processes and a viable carbon capture and storage (CCS) infrastructure. The government recognises also that "there are some industrial processes which, by virtue of the chemical reactions required for production, will continue to emit CO2", ie CCS is the only option to tackle these emissions. In order for the UK industry to maintain its competitiveness and meet these stringent requirements new processes are needed which reduce the cost of carbon capture, typically more than 60% of the overall cost of CCS.

Research challenge - The key challenges in carbon capture from industry lie in the wide range of conditions (temperature, pressure, composition) and scale of the processes encountered in industrial applications. For carbon capture from industrial sources the drivers and mechanisms to achieve emissions reductions will be very different from those of the power generation industry. It is important to consider that for example the food and drinks industry is striving to reduce the carbon footprint of the products we purchase due to pressures from consumers.
The practical challenge and the real long term opportunity for R&D are solutions for medium to small scale sources. In developing this project we have collaborated with several industrial colleagues to identify a broad range case studies to be investigated. As an example of low CO2 concentration systems we have identified a medium sized industry: Lotte Chemicals in Redcar, manufacturer of PET products primarily for the packaging of food and drinks. The plant has gas fired generators that produce 3500 kg/hr of CO2 each at approximately 7%. The emissions from the generators are equivalent to 1/50th of a 500 MW gas fired power plant. The challenge is to intensify the efficiency of the carbon capture units by reducing cycle times and increasing the working capacity of the adsorbents. To tackle this challenge we will develop novel amine supporting porous carbons housed in a rotary wheel adsorber. To maximise the volume available for the adsorbent we will consider direct electrical heating, thus eliminating the need for heat transfer surfaces and introducing added flexibility in case steam is not available on site.
As an example of high CO2 concentrations we will collaborate with Air Products. The CO2 capture process will be designed around the steam methane reformer used to generate hydrogen. The tail gas from this system contains 45% v/v CO2. The base case will be for a generator housed in a shipping container. By developing a corresponding carbon capture module this can lead to a system that can produce clean H2 from natural gas or shale gas, providing a flexible low carbon source of H2 or fuel for industrial applications.
Rapid cycle adsorption based processes will be developed to drive down costs by arriving flexible systems with small footprints for a range of applications and that can lead to mass-production of modular units. We will carry out an ambitious programme of work that will address both materials and process development for carbon capture from industrial sources.

Planned Impact

1. Who might benefit from this research?

Academia - see Academic Beneficiaries section.

Industry - Industrial partners covering a broad range of sectors (from spirits production to traditional refining and including the Teesside Collective) are contributing directly to this research, helping to shape the project with an excellent mix of case studies of potential applications of the modular adsorption based technology.

Policy makers planning for CCS development need information on efficient new capture technologies, as will investors in new industrial plants who need to include new capture technologies in the future scenarios of production in a low carbon economy.

General public will benefit from the improved fundamental scientific knowledge of the design of new adsorbent materials and advanced modular processes that take full advantage of these new materials. This will provide information for public debates and material for School teachers to explain the potential of CCS and how science and engineering are applied in this field.

2. How might they benefit from this research?

Commercial, Economic and Industry benefit - CCS is an industry in its early stages of development and as recognised by the Government research can lead to significant innovation and cost reduction, especially in novel carbon capture technologies, where over 50% of the full chain cost lies. Taking an early lead in the development of new technologies has the potential to produce clear benefits in terms of both National and International competitiveness. The project includes from the outset collaborations with end users and suppliers of advanced fast cycle adsorptions systems, thus providing a direct link that will ensure rapid take-up of the results of the project.

Environmental and Energy benefit - The UK Climate Change Act has clearly set the legally binding target of target of 80% CO2 emissions reductions by 2050. This target will require nearly complete decarbonisation of large and medium scale emitters. While the power sector has the option of shifting to low carbon systems (renewables and nuclear), for industrial emissions, which will account for 45% of global emissions, the solution has to be based on developing more efficient processes and a viable CCS infrastructure. The government recognises also that "there are some industrial processes which, by virtue of the chemical reactions required for production, will continue to emit CO2", ie CCS is the only option to tackle these emissions.

Influencing Public Policy and Legislation benefit - The results of this project will allow reliable predictions of the performance of a new carbon capture technology applicable to a wide range of carbon dioxide emissions from industrial sources. Collaboration with the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (a project partner) will guide policy development and future standards for setting the requirements of CCS for industrial plants.

Publications

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Description The production of hydrogen from steam methane reforming includes sufficient excess energy that allows in principle to operate two adsorption processes that can capture 80-90% of the carbon dioxide produced. Furthermore, taking as the basis current small commercial steam methane reformers housed in shipping containers the size of the corresponding capture units can be placed inside a shipping container. As hydrogen can be used as a clean fuel, this is a potential technology that could have widespread use.
Exploitation Route Hydrogen can be used as a clean fuel, this is a potential technology that could have widespread use and potentially impact also small scale emissions from different sectors.
Sectors Chemicals,Construction,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology