Development of new absorber technologies for carbon capture and usage

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Faculty of Engineering


The damage to the environment due to burning fossil fuels is an established fact, and the development of mopping up technologies have been developed over the last three decades. These include hot potassium carbonate solutions, Amines and other absorbents. Almost all systems require gas-liquid contactors as the first unit operation. Considering the flue gas volumetric flowrates, the absorber towers in these systems are the most dominating structures leading to columns up to 10 m diameters. This makes the footprint of the carbon capture unit large compared to the industrial site that emits the CO2. Capital investment and operational costs are considerably large, making the economic feasibility and adaptability of carbon capture challenging to many industries.

In this backdrop, an ambitious and adventurous research programme has been developed to assess the feasibility of downsizing the gas-liquid contact process by developing a new family of contactors. This includes modifying venture ejectors to achieve large interfacial area per unit volume of gas. The research programme has been developed together with a leading ejector manufacturing company, Transvac, in Alfreton. The use of their ejector technology as a process contactor will reduce the size and capital costs of CCU plant and equipment to a point, so they become desirable for end-users. To develop a product suitable for carbon capture, an in-depth understanding of both the competing phenomena that take place within efficiency ejectors, and how using ejectors to replace the contactors in the CCU process can reduce the cost, efficiency, and size of the CCU plant.

The research programme is mainly focused on evaluating the performance of the suggested technology. This includes a considerable experimental campaign collecting data and analysing them to develop empirical models. The team working on this project has considerable experience in developing ejector technology, two-phase flow experimentation and data analysis and will be involved at every stage of the programme.

Planned Impact

The proposed Centre will benefit the following groups

1. Students - develop their professional skills, a broad technical and societal knowledge of the sector and a wider appreciation of the role decarbonised fuel systems will play in the UK and internationally. They will develop a strong network of peers who they can draw on in their professional careers. We will continue to offer our training to other Research Council PhD students and cross-fertilise our training with that offered under other CDT programmes, and similar initiatives where that develops mutual benefit. We will further enhance this offering by encouraging industrialists to undertake some of our training as Professional Development ensuring a broadening of the training cohort beyond academe. Students will be very employable due to their knowledge, skills and broad industrial understanding.
2. Industrial partners - Companies identify research priorities that underpin their long-term business goals and can access state of the art facilities within the HEIs involved to support that research. They do not need to pre-define the scope of their work at the outset, so that the Centre can remain responsive to their developing research needs. They may develop new products, services or models and have access to a potential employee cohort, with an advanced skill base. We have already established a track record in our predecessor CDTs, with graduates now acting as research managers and project supervisors within industry
3. Academic partners - accelerating research within the Energy research community in each HEI. We will develop the next generation of researchers and research leaders with a broader perspective than traditional PhD research and create a bedrock of research expertise within each HEI, developing supervisory skills across a broad range of topics and faculties and supporting HEIs' goals of high quality publications leading to research impacts and an informed group of educators within each HEI. .
4. Government and regulators - we will liaise with national and regional regulators and policy makers. We will conduct research directly aligned with the Government's Clean Growth Strategy, Mission Innovation and with the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund's theme Prosper from the Energy Revolution, to help meet emission, energy security and affordability targets and we will seek to inform developing energy policy through new findings and impartial scientific advice. We will help to provide the skills base and future innovators to enable growth in the decarbonised energy sector.
5. Wider society and the publics - developing technologies to reduce carbon emissions and reduce the cost of a transition to a low carbon economy. Need to ascertain the publics' views on the proposed new technologies to ensure we are aligned with their views and that there will be general acceptance of the new technologies. Public engagement will be a two-way conversation where researchers will listen to the views of different publics, acknowledging that there are many publics and not just one uniform group. We will actively engage with public from including schools, our local communities and the 'interested' public, seeking to be honest providers of unbiased technical information in a way that is correct yet accessible.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S022996/1 01/10/2019 31/03/2028
2449465 Studentship EP/S022996/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Evan Goldman