Sheffield leads the way towards cheaper carbon capture and storage

Academics from the University of Sheffield have begun two new projects looking at cheaper ways of capturing carbon dioxide to cut emissions into the atmosphere.

Both projects are funded by the European Commission’s Horizon2020 Low Carbon Energy programme and total over 8 million euros.

Carbon capture and storage is the process of capturing carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from coal and gas power stations and heavy industry, and then storing it deep underground.

The €3.2million ‘ROLINCAP’ project will explore how new chemical solvents can be used in a process called “rotating packed bed” which accelerates the chemical reaction, and so could capture more carbon dioxide more efficiently and with smaller equipment.

Prof Meihong Wang, Professor of Energy Systems in the Department for Chemical and Biological Engineering and part of Energy 2050, said “Our European consortium will work with experts from South Korea to develop technologies for post-combustion carbon capture and storage.  We will explore new solvents and new techniques for process intensification, which I hope will lead to cheaper, more efficient carbon capture.”

The second project, NanoMEMC2, will develop innovative materials, membranes and processes for carbon dioxide capture. The project involves ten partners from across the Europe and totals €5million in research funding.

Graphene-based nanosheets and cellulose nanofibres will be studied in detail considering their possible modification to improve polymer compatibility and affinity with carbon dioxide.

Dr Karen Finney, Co-Investigator on the NanoMEMC2 project and Research Fellow from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, said “Carbon capture and storage is a proven technology, but we need to bring costs down and one way to do that is through innovative new techniques.  This project will explore how membranes can sift out carbon dioxide from power stations and big industrial factories.”

The project will also use the national CCS testing facilities (known as PACT), which the University of Sheffield operates, where the team be doing large-scale testing on the membranes with different flue gases, from power generation and synthetic gases to mimic a range of industrial processes.

The University of Sheffield’s Energy 2050 institute is an expert hub of the UK’s CCS research. A founding member of the UK CCS Research Centre, which is co-hosted at Sheffield, it is the lead UK institution in the International CCS Test Centre Network.