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Chinese-European Emission-Reducing Solutions

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - CHEERS (Chinese-European Emission-Reducing Solutions)

Reporting period: 2020-04-01 to 2021-12-31

CHEERS is a collaborative project between Europe and China that focus on carbon capture from production of power and utility steam for refinery purposes. In particular, it involves a 2nd generation chemical-looping technology currently tested and verified at laboratory scale (up to 150 kW). Within the project, the core technology will be developed into a 3 MW system prototype for demonstration in China. This constitutes a major step towards large-scale decarbonisation of industry, offering a considerable potential for next-generation industrial combustion processes.

CHEERS concentrates on the chemical-looping combustion (CLC) technology, aimed at providing a high temperature gas for steam generation with inherent carbon capture. The technology requires two fluidised reactors, where solid particles (oxygen carriers) are oxidised by air in one reactor before being transported to the other reactor and reduced by the fuel. The exhaust from the fuel reactor consists primarily of carbon dioxide and steam (as in traditional oxy-combustion schemes), while the exhaust from the air reactor is oxygen-depleted air. In refineries, the fuel could be either waste gases resulting from refining processes, heavy residual fuels, or petroleum coke. In addition, Chinese partners shall further test CLC for power generation purpose with lignite feedstock.

The system prototype is based on a fundamentally new fuel-conversion process synthesised from prior research and development actions over more than a decade. The innovative concept is deemed capable of removing 96% of combustion-related CO2 while eliminating the CO2 capture energy penalty to almost zero. The captured CO2 stream can then be sent either for utilisation purposes or compression and storage.

Applied to industrial auxiliary systems, CHEERS aims at reducing drastically the efficiency drop lost to the carbon capture chain. This shall be demonstrated in operations using petroleum coke as the most challenging fuel. In this respect, CHEERS is conceived as a greening measure for the petroleum refining sector, converting petroleum coke and heavy residual oil into auxiliary steam and power. It is anticipated that a successful demonstration will pave the ground for a wider deployment of the technology in the energy-intensive industry, especially processes hampered with combustion-related CO2. In addition, combustion of biomass in a CLC system can produce renewable electricity or heat with negative CO2 emission.
In CHEERS, the verification of oxygen carriers is an integrated activity. Oxygen carriers should be capable of sustaining the exceedingly high sulphur and metal contents associated with petcoke. The interaction between oxygen carriers and the petcoke gasification/burn-out is vital to the process efficacy. This interaction may also cause critical agglomeration and sulphur passivation. Three oxygen carriers (natural ores) have been tested at pilot scale (up to 150kWth). All of them performed well, but a particular ilmenite material from Titania in Norway has been chosen for use in the 3MW demonstration unit. The choice of this particular material was made based on its reactivity, attrition rate, particle size distribution and price. A synthetic perovskite produced by SINTEF as part of the project showed very high stability and good performance for fuels with no sulphur. This oxygen carrier can be favourable for fuels such as e.g. biomass and lignite.

The design of the entire 3MWth demonstration unit has now been completed. In addition, a cold-flow mock-up of the demonstration unit has been designed, constructed, tested, and used for further design validation and training of operators. In particular, hydrodynamic studies of particular sections of the unit were performed and found to fit with design expectations. Based on this, the Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) of the 3MW demonstration unit was finalized by the engineering company WORLEY. The FEED consisted of 250 deliverables, and the handover of the FEED from TotalEnergies to Dongfang Boiler Company was organized between May and July 2021, which marked the start of the Engineering Procurement Construction and Commissioning (EPCC) phase. The EPCC consists of a large number of sub-contracts for e.g. civil engineering, environmental assessment, long lead items (reaction section and flue gas management), control system, etc. The engineering design of all reactors, including connecting sections, the flue gas management section and civil engineering are finalized. In addition, call for tenders for the reaction and flue gas management sections are also ready.

Several modelling approaches have been developed for the demonstration unit. A simplified one-dimensional model has been used for system optimization, while a full three-dimensional Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) model was used to understand the behaviour inside the reactors in more detail. CFD simulations of the 150 kW pilot unit in Trondheim and the cold mock-up in Deyang have been finalized and compared with experimental results. These simulations served as validation of models being used. CFD simulations of the demo unit have also been initiated, simulating the whole reactor system including cyclones, but this work is not yet finalized.

Process simulations of CLC, Circulating Fluidized Bed (CFB) and Natural Gas Combined Cycle (NGCC) cases at industrial scale, both for refinery and power applications, have been finalized. The results will be used as the basis for performing the techno-economic analysis of the three technologies (CLC, CFB and NGCC).

A webinar series presenting the main results from the various work performed in the project has been initiated. The dissemination of results within the scientific community and the wider public have contributed to the increased visibility of Horizon 2020 projects and promoted cooperation between the EU and China.
The work on oxygen carriers was recently concluded by the selection of the oxygen carrier material to be used in the demonstration unit. In addition, new knowledge was gained with respect to CFD simulations of advanced CLC reactor systems – this includes also improved models for accurate predictions of momentum and heat transfer for reacting particles. This comes in addition to all the new design and engineering related knowledge gained throughout the pre-FEED and FEED phases.

As the project continues, it is expected to demonstrate that an optimized chemical looping combustion technology can yield high CO2 capture efficiency at a very low efficiency penalty, even for difficult fuels, such as petcoke.

The expected impact of CHEERS is itemised as follows: (1) providing cost- and resource effective application of carbon capture in industrial operations, (2) constituting a steppingstone to wider deployment, (3) facilitating clusters of carbon capture storage and utilization projects, (4) ensuring a competitive position for existing EU industries in a future carbon-restrained world, and (5) reconciling competitiveness with EU climate goals.
Cold-flow mock-up