NUON starts promising CO2 capture pilot18 July 2011
In order to prepare for large-scale application of CO2 capture and storage (CCS), a CO2 capture pilot installation based on pre-combustion technology is constructed at NUON's Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power station in Buggenum (Limburg). It is the first of its kind in northern Europe.
With an investment of 40 million euro, the pilot will run at least for two years. The Buggenum pilot will render new knowledge and experience that will be used to optimise the full-scale plant. It fits in the strategy of Vattenfall, the owner of NUON, to investigate carbon capture and storage as a viable technique for a low-carbon energy supply.
Lower energy consumptionThe Buggenum pilot is special because it captures CO2 before the combustion of the fuel takes place (pre-combustion). Pre-combustion capture is promising, especially because energy consumption is expected to be lower than in the current post-combustion process. Kay Damen, CO2 Capture R&D Programme Manager at Nuon: "With this pilot we aim to verify whether energy consumption - and consequently cost of CO2 capture - indeed meets expectations. We hope to get hints on how to decrease energy consumption even further. Besides, the pilot offers commercial parties the opportunity to test new technologies (e.g. solvents and catalysts with lower energy consumption) and get them ready to go to market. In order to commercialise these technologies, technology suppliers first want to demonstrate the feasibility on a pilot scale. Some commercial parties have already showed their interest."
Subsidy from Dutch governmentThe Buggenum project is linked to a research programme for which NUON received 10 million Euro from the Dutch government's subsidy programme UKR (Unieke KansenRegeling). The research concerns monitoring of each individual component and of characteristics like temperature, pressure, flows, composition, regeneration of solvents etcetera. Many of the individual components have already been proven in the chemical industry, but the configuration in the IGCC plant is new, as well as operation modes. Researchers from ECN and TU Delft are involved.
Plant designThe pilot plant is designed to capture 1.4 tonnes of CO2 per hour by means of a physical solvent, with a capture efficiency of 80 to 85%. The plant consists of five parts: syngas conditioning, water-gas shift, condensate recovery, CO2 absorption and solvent regeneration. The captured CO2 will not be stored but be vented into the atmosphere.
The Buggenum pilot is a simplified version of the pre-combustion capture plant at the Magnum power station. Magnum's combined cycle units are currently being built in the north of the Netherlands. Although Nuon recently decided to postpone the construction of the coal gasification part of the multifuel power plant, the pilot in Buggenum will continue its operation.
Sources: NUON press release; article Science Direct (Proceedings GHGT-10, Sep 2010).
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