Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The carbon dioxide trapper

11.11.2008
CO2 capture and storage is one of the leading points on the world agenda this year. Unless we can find a technology that can capture this problematic greenhouse gas and put it away safely, we are going to be in a bad way. The entire basis of our way of life depends on being able to balance our environmental accounts.

SINTEF’s Karl Anders Hoff feels that he is privileged to be able to work in such a central aspect of the debate over the environment and society. CO2 capture has been his exclusive field of study ever since the nineties, when he was working on his MSc thesis at NTNU.

Now he is project manager for SOLVit, an eight year-long research and development programme financed by Gasnova and the Norwegian industrial company Aker Clean Carbon, which is also coordinating the programme. With a total budget of NOK 317 million, the project is one of the biggest in the world of its type.

Hoff and his colleagues at SINTEF are developing chemical scrubbing processes for capturing carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that is spewed out by factories and as flue gases from coal and gas-fired power stations. It is estimated that the 4000 largest such plants in the world are responsible for 40 percent of global anthropogenic CO2 emissions to the atmosphere.

The aim of SOLVit is to lower the costs of CO2 capture and storage.

- But you aren’t starting completely from scratch, are you?

"No, SOLVit is a result of a number of our previous CO2 projects. These have shown us which direction we ought to be going in, and that it is necessary to work in several fields and on many levels.

As a result, several of the scientists in my department are now working on CO2. At the moment, there are 17 of us in a special team, and since this project is due to continue for eight years, there will probably be more in the future".

- So it is still too expensive to capture CO2 today?

"Yes, the process requires too much energy. A power station that is generating electricity loses about 15 – 20 percent of its output by capturing CO2 . which is sufficient to make it unprofitable. A CO2 capture plant also needs a high level of investment. These costs mean that CO2 capture is not being implemented, and this is what we have to do something about".

- What is the solution?

"The key lies in the chemicals used. These have to be capable of binding CO2, but not so strongly that the gas cannot be released later on. Compounds called amines are used today, but we are looking for other chemicals that have more suitable characteristics".

- How does this happen?

"We are talking about cold flue gases from a gas-fired power station, that need to be “scrubbed” of CO2. The flue gases flow through a pipe or column, into which chemicals are sprayed at the top so that they can diffuse through the gas and bind to the CO2. The CO2-rich liquid gathers at the bottom of the pipe, after which it needs to be boiled in order to separate out 99.9% pure CO2, while the chemical mix is recycled in order to capture more CO2. Processes of this sort are widely used today to scrub industrial flue gases, but never on the scale that would be needed for a plant that deals with the CO2 from a coal- or gas-fired power plant".

- Have you identified good new chemicals?

"We are on the way there, and we have ideas for chemicals that will reduce energy requirements by 50 percent. The challenge lies in “having our cake and eating it”; i.e. finding chemicals that can react rapidly with CO2 while also needing little energy to release the CO2 from them afterwards. Perhaps what we need is a liquid that captures CO2 and then separates into two different phases, or one that turns the gas into a solid".

- A brand-new test plant should help you there?

"Yes, as part of the programme, we are building a large laboratory at Tiller in Trondheim at a cost of NOK 42 million. SINTEF is putting in 25 percent of the cost of the lab from its own funds. This will be a unique pilot-scale facility, with a 33 metre-high tower and a 25 metre-high scrubbing column, the sort of height that would be needed in an industrial scrubber. This will give us useful results. We can check whether the chemicals that we use are broken down in the long run, and whether they are hazardous waste".

- What does your timetable for the future look like?

"SOLVit will work on both short and long-term solutions, and the project is divided into three phases. Within the next few years, first-generation capture plants will be built in Norway, the UK and Germany. In Norway and the UK the state will support the construction of these plants, and potential suppliers are already tendering for the job in Norway. We already have a new chemical ready, which is due to be tested while we are developing other new contenders. We will also start work on longer-term solutions for second and third-generation plants".

Aase Dragland | alfa
Further information:
http://www.sintef.com

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

'On-off switch' brings researchers a step closer to potential HIV vaccine

30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Penn studies find promise for innovations in liquid biopsies

30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

An LED-based device for imaging radiation induced skin damage

30.03.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>