Advancing Carbon Capture and Storage Research

The UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre (UKCCSRC), based at the University of Sheffield, recently announced that it has been awarded £6.1m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research  Council (EPSRC) to continue its work until 2022. 

Dr Karen Finney working at PACT, our specialist facilities at Beighton, Sheffield.

Dr Karen Finney working at PACT, our specialist facilities at Beighton, Sheffield.

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a three-stage technology where CO2 is captured from human-made CO2 emission sources, transported typically via a network of pipelines and stored in deep, offshore subsurface geological formations. The capture process can remove 90% or more of the CO2 generated from fossil fuel (coal, oil and gas) and industrial processes (such as steel and concrete manufacture). CCS using biomass (BECCS), or processes that take CO2 directly from the air, can also provide negative emissions. The Committee on Climate Change states that CCS, including BECCS, has the potential to more than halve the cost of meeting the UK’s 2050 carbon target.

Hosting the UKCCSRC is part of the University of Sheffield’s Energy 2050 initiative, which is one of the UKs largest energy research institutes, led by Prof Mohamed Pourkashanian. The UKCCSRC’s mission is to help ensure that CCS plays an effective role in reducing net CO2 emissions while securing affordable and controllable electricity supplies, low carbon heat and competitive low carbon industries for the UK. Over the life-span of the EPSRC funding the UKCCSRC will support and coordinate a programme of research, taking place across the University of Sheffield and in nine other partner institutions.

The University of Sheffield also hosts the Pilot-Scale Advanced CO2-Capture Technology (PACT) facilities. PACT are national specialist research and development facilities for combustion and carbon capture technology research, encompassing advanced fossil-fuel energy, bioenergy and carbon capture and storage/utilisation technologies for power generation and industrial applications. To date the facilities at PACT have been utilized by many UKCCSRC funded projects, and will do so again as part of the Centre’s core research programme.

PACT allows UKCCSRC researchers to test CCS technology physically, but further testing is required to ensure the same technology will be effective on an industrial scale. Prof Meihong Wang, and Prof Lin Ma, from the University of Sheffield, are making this possible by developing process models and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models that allows researchers to upscale their findings, test various scenarios, and optimize process conditions so they can be confident that the technology is robust enough for large scale industrial application.

Dr Solomon Brown, also of the University of Sheffield, is working alongside Prof. Wang, developing algorithms that will simplify and speed up the computational models used in CCS research. This is done through creating metamodels, which once complete, will be used to analyse how various carbon capture technologies can impact the UK energy system as a whole, and by policy makers as a tool to inform their strategic decisions about how CCS works at a system level.

Jon Gibbins, Director UKCCSRC and Professor of Power Plant Engineering and Carbon Capture at the University of Sheffield said “CCS technology is not only the best chance we have at meeting our climate change commitments for 2050, it is also a way of promoting regional growth by supporting jobs in competitive industries. We’re very fortunate to have such a range of expertise and facilities based at the University of Sheffield to help us further our research and maximise the impact can have both in the UK and globally.“