Text: Research Scientist Astrid Stevik
Photo: Mette Kjelstad Høiseth
It is not a coincidence that SINTEF Energy Research had been appointed coordinator of this project which has a budget of € 15 million.
Long-term experience in Trondheim
The combustion technology group at SINTEF Energy Research has 30 years' experience with numerical simulation and practical experiments in combustion processes. The group's participation and coordination of the ENCAP and DYNAMIS projects in the 6th Framework Programme paved the way for the large-scale effort that DECARBit represents.
Important step ahead
The long-term objective of DECARBit is developing advanced pre-combustion capture techniques to substantially reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from fossil fuel power plants. The project is to develop new pre-combustion technologies that can meet the cost target of 15 €/tonne CO2.
The strategy is to build on the work performed in ENCAP and DYNAMIS and use the common guidelines and boundary condition reference documents developed to take CCS technology an important step ahead and accelerate the deployment of large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) plants. As most of Europe's energy demand is met by power plants based on fossil fuel technology, it is urgent to develop measures that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is in line with the adopted European policies for emission reductions.
Years of focused research in European projects have resulted in a comprehensive network of partners and the DECARBit team comprises 21 research and industry partners from nine countries. These partners will cooperate in five subprojects in research, development and the construction of pilot plants that will advance pre-combustion carbon capture techniques.
As the figure illustrates, these sub-projects (SP2-4) form the basis for the pilot plant experiments and progress beyond state of the art in sub-project 5.
Sub-project 1 (SP1) - System integration and optimization, here focus is on cost reductions by evaluating the technology and processes that are developed in DECARBit. Close cooperation with other EU projects in CCS will ensure that the technology that is developed is utilized. SP1 is to help ensure that other types of industry can employ the results of the CCS projects and thereby identify other research challenges CCS.
Sub-project 2 (SP2) - Advanced pre-combustion CO2 separation, here focus is put on membranes, sorbents and solvents. The goal is to reduce the energy costs of the capture process itself by increasing the capture process operating temperature. This will reduce the temperature swing of the syngas.
Sub-project 3 (SP3) - Advanced oxygen separation technologies, is to develop more affordable oxygen production technologies. The development work is to be focused on advanced non-cryogenic oxygen production techniques based on oxygen transfer membranes and materials suited for the Ceramic Auto thermal Recovery (CAR) type of process.
Sub-project 4 (SP4) - Enabling technologies for pre-combustion, follows up on previous work where compliance with the CO2 and NOx emission limit values results in a remaining product stream with a hydrogen-rich gas. SP4 will address the fundamental challenge of how to combine low emissions with the combustion of this hydrogen-rich gas.
As the figure illustrates, these sub-projects (SP2-4) form the basis for the pilot plant experiments and progress beyond state of the art in sub-project 5. The scope of the research is shown by SP2, 3 and 4. The different types of technology that are developed separately or in combination are considered to have great potential for a technological breakthrough.
By the end of 2007, the consortium agreement and the EU Grant Agreement for DECARBit were finalized. The motivation and engagement of all the partners was evident in the project kick-off meeting in Trondheim on 6 February 2008. There were two eventful days that marked the start of this 4-year project that potentially could make a valuable contribution to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases from fossil fuel power plants.