Power plant efficiently reduces CO2 emissions by more than 90 %
With United Nations (UN) climate talks currently underway in Doha, Qatar it is timely news that an innovative new method can reduce power plant carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by more than 90 %. Now in the planning stage, the system is to be initialised on an existing power plant.
The TU Darmstadt's Institute for Energy Systems and Technology, which operates one of the world's largest pilot systems for capturing CO2, has been investigating the carbonate-looping method for the past four years. Darmstadt researchers have studied this method for more than 1,000 operational hours, and concluded that it uses less energy and incurs less expense than former approaches. A major benefit of using this method is that it may be retrofitted to existing power plants.
Research into the carbonate-looping method has been supported by grants totalling more than EUR 5 million from Germany's Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and various industrial associates. Additional funding of EUR 1.5 million will come from European Union grants, which will help to develop this method further.
This news follows the publication of a report this year, titled 'Trends in Global CO2 Emissions', which revealed that global emissions of CO2 (the main cause of global warming) had increased by 3 % in 2011, reaching an all-time high of 34 billion tonnes.
Institute Director Professor Bernd Epple, who has been investigating this method alongside 30 colleagues, said, 'This method represents a milestone along the way to CO2-free power plants and will allow coal-fired, natural-gas-fired, waste-derived-fuel-fired, and biomass-fired, power plants to reliably and cost-effectively, generate electricity and heat without burdening the environment.'
Carbonate-looping works by ensuring large quantities of the greenhouse gas (GHG) CO2 are generated during the combustion of fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas. A key technology for arriving at lower-emission and more environmentally friendly power plants is carbon capture and utilisation (CCU), which is applied to fossil-fired power plants. CCU can reduce CO2 emissions arising from employing fossil fuels for generating electricity and other industry methods to a minimum. This has the effect of significantly reducing GHG emissions.
The TU Darmstadt Institute has been conducting pilot-scale investigations of various innovative methods for CO2-capture and are continually looking at ways to avoid CO2 emissions, while keeping energy inputs and operating costs low.
The carbonate-looping method employs naturally occurring limestone for binding CO2 contained in power plant flue gases in a first-stage reactor. Pure CO2 is then liberated into a second-stage reactor and further processed or stored. The TU Darmstadt's pilot-scale research system proved capable of capturing more than 90 % of the CO2 emitted, while reducing both the energy input and operating costs formerly required for CO2 capture by more than 50 %.
Various investigations and simulations conducted in parallel have indicated that this method would be suitable for utilisation on full-scale systems; the experience gained by the TU Darmstadt group is currently being applied to a system that has been scaled up by a factor of 20. The next stage is to plan a scaled-up system for installation on an existing, German, power plant.
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Trends in global CO2 emissions; 2012 Report:
Data Source Provider: Technische Universität Darmstadt
Document Reference: Based on information from the Technische Universität Darmstadt
Subject Index: Climate change & Carbon cycle research; Innovation, Technology Transfer