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CarbOn Neutral cluSters through Electricity-based iNnovations in Capture, Utilisation and Storage

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ConsenCUS (CarbOn Neutral cluSters through Electricity-based iNnovations in Capture, Utilisation and Storage)

Berichtszeitraum: 2021-05-01 bis 2022-10-31

The aim of the project is to allow crucial European industries to operate with net-zero carbon emissions, by offering them Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) solutions based on renewable electricity, and integrating them in carbon neutral clusters. The project is called ConsenCUS: CarbOn Neutral clusterS, through Electricity based iNnovations in capture, Conversion, Utilization and Storage. We will bring promising innovations in electrochemical capture and utilization processes from lab-scale (TRL 4-5) into industrial settings (TRL 7) to be tested and proven. By modelling their potential in these and other industries, the project can illustrate what is needed for industrial clusters in the North-West and South East European regions so that on average they do not emit CO2, but either convert it into useful products and/or temporarily store CO2, becoming Net-Zero.

The consortium targets three crucial industries: cement, refinery and magnesite. These are hard-to-abate sectors at the top of the industrial emitters list; decarbonizing them using renewable electricity allows reaching a truly net-zero Europe in 2050. New techniques make a wider dispersion of CO2 capture and conversion possible. The electrochemical processes are easily scalable, so a broader range of CO2-emmitting industries can be targeted, once our technique is proven. By combining capture and conversion in a versatile basic chemical (formate) the project also unlocks markets for this ‘recycled’ carbon, replacing the use of ‘fossil’ carbon.

Cluster design and optimization based on techno-economic and humanities research will chart how shared infrastructure, jobs, communities, economy and environment can be positively affected by the CCUS activities in Europe.
The ConsenCUS project focusses on different research area’s. Next to the innovative demonstration unit, research on temporary storage, awareness and acceptance and value chain modelling is done.

Work on the Demonstration Plant:
An intensive collaboration between the innovaters, industries and supportive partners was built in order to kick-start the development of the demonstration unit. This resulted in understanding of all technological interfaces between the different parts of the demonstration plant and how to locate the demonstration plant at the industrial sites. Based on this, the engineering of the demonstration plant started and is on track. A 3D-model is available (photo) and most of the piping and instrumentation diagram is complete, so that ordering of critical (and long-lead) items is possible. Hazard and operability studies are nearly finished in order to start permitting procedures.
The CO2-utilization module is a stand-alone part that is nearly finished (photo). The engineering of the CO2 capture module was also relatively straightforward, but integrating this with the regeneration module brought some hurdles. Rather than a sequential engineering step, both modules needed to be developed in parallel to fit the planning towards the first demonstration campaign. A tradeoff between energy consumption, capture efficiency and cost of materials had to be made, resulting in a set-up with a lower capture rate. Also the energy efficiency performance is still higher than expected.
Overall, the demonstration campaign is still scheduled to start on track in Q4 2023 and with a fully available demonstration plant.

Work on Storage:
The research on safe cyclic loading/unloading of CO2 in saline and aquifer caverns has laid its basis. Both types of rock are tested in the lab, simulating the effects of CO2 on the caverns and cap-rock. Also mathematical modelling on loading/unloading has started. Both research angels are not yet finished so, once a system modelling framework is finished, specific operating conditions can be refined for more detailed loading/unloading scenarios, fitting the Net-Zero Industry models.

Work on Awareness and Acceptance:
The base-line studies of the strategic narratives about CCUS in the clusters (NW and SE Europe) is ready and some interesting findings are published in a first op-ed about the Romania situation. Yearly updates of these narratives give insight in the way CCUS is discussed in open sources in the clusters. Accompanied by dedicated studies of relevant communities in the clusters close to demonstration sites, public awareness and acceptance of CCUS is researched. Coming out of the COVID pandemic, organizing community events proved hard to realize in the first year. Subsequently, the topic of CCUS is regarded a difficult one to engage public, especially if there are other energy related topics that have more direct impact (energy crisis, rising energy bills). Three community events were organized and others are in preparation.

Work on Clustering and modelling the value chain:
The work for modelling net-zero clusters headed off with work to gather databases of emitters and end-users and possible storage-sites. These form the basic information to start with mathematical modelling and value chain optimization research. We started to develop a value chain optimization framework to analyze how location, size and timing of investments are affected by alternative technologies and infrastructures.
As most of our research is ongoing, no real conclusions can be drawn at this moment. The engineering of the demonstration plant shows great steps forward in upscaling the technology towards demonstration in three different industrial settings, with the engineering, assembling and testing still on schedule before the first real demonstration campaign in Q4 2023. However, some tradeoffs had to be made to with regard to energy consumption and capture efficiency. How this will result in the end in an cost-effective way of capturing and converting CO2 to useful products is researched in RP2 and final reporting period. We expect that after our demonstration campaign we gained a lot of insights on the performance, scalability, applicability in the demonstration industries (cement, refinery and magnesia) as well as other industries. With the mid-term exploitation plan, we work closely with relevant internal and external partners to assess this beyond the demonstration campaign and the three identified industries. A cluster based approach is viewed as valuable for creating synergies between different emitters and end-users. Because of capital intensive infrastructure, there is a need for shared infrastructure and investments. The scalable ConsenCUS technology can be placed with smaller, medium-sized users (more widely spread geographically), that makes the need for clustering of transport, off-take and/or storage (more concentrated points) even more important.
At the moment, CO2 storage sites are scarce, and looking at the sheer volume of CO2 we want to store permanently as EU, the question is if there is also room for cyclic up-/unloading of CO2. Also, in this case, research must conclude if it is feasible to do so. And modelling it into the CCUS value chain, if it contributes to make Net-Zero clusters.
With our research on Awareness and Acceptance we create valuable data on how the public reacts and regards CCUS solutions. To ultimately succeed in implementing CCUS, the role of public acceptance can not be overlooked. Researching this strategic narratives and formulating policy goals that incorporates the publics view to CCUS helps in making decisions that are accepted.
Impression of 3D Model
Inside of conversion unit
DTU and OMVPET team on Romanian site
ConsenCUS Logo