Promising technologies to reduce power plant emissions

Friday, 21 November, 2014
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology has the potential to help the European Union (EU) significantly cut its greenhouse gas emissions. However, efficient and reliable pre-combustion capture technologies that can reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel power plants at low cost are still missing.
London Battersea Power Station

The research team behind the EU-funded project DECARBit developed new pre-combustion technologies that could lead to significant CO2 reductions from fossil-fuelled power plants by 2020 and reduce the carbon capture costs.

Post-combustion CO2 capture technology typically uses chemicals that extract CO2 from the exhaust gases in power plant (flue gases). “These post-combustion processes are very energy intensive, mainly due to the energy required for regenerating the chemicals used in the capture operation,” explains project coordinator Marie Bysveen, Executive Vice-President of SINTEF Energy Research in Norway. “New pre-combustion technologies, on the other hand, remove the carbon from fuel before combustion and produce hydrogen, which is much more energy efficient,” she adds.

The DECARBit team focused on four promising pre-combustion technologies and carried out related pilot experiments, with the aim of demonstrating feasibility and providing accurate figures on their CO2 capture cost analysis.

The most promising DECARBit processes were the Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA), Membrane Gas Desorption (MGD), Low Temperature separation (LT) and the High temperature membrane air separation (ITM). The main finding was that the LT technology was the most economic, able to capture carbon dioxide at €19.5 per ton, but closely followed by PSA and MGD - at €25.1 and €25.7, respectively. ITM achieved the highest capture cost of €29 per ton CO2.

The project team's research is expected to support the creation of large-scale CCS plants, helping achieve the EU’s 2020 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30%. The new solutions developed by the DECARBit team could also see the use of CCS technologies in other energy-intensive industries.

The knowledge gained from the project could encourage further industrial uptake of CCS and achieve a significant reduction of the capture cost of CO2. The EU also stands to benefit by striving to maintain a leadership position in CCS technologies. “However, this all depends on government policies towards CCS and market conditions,” adds Bysveen.

DECARBit project built on successful Sixth Research Framework Programme (FP6) projects including ENCAP, CACHET, COACH and DYNAMIS.

Enabling advanced pre-combustion capture techniques and plants
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