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BASF, RWE Power and Linde Developing New Processes for CO2 Capture in Coal-Fired Power Plants

BASF, RWE Power and the Linde Group are cooperating to develop and deploy new processes for CO2 capture from flue gases in coal-fired power plants. The partners are targeting removal and subsequent underground storage of more than 90% of CO2.

Their cooperation includes the construction and operation of a pilot facility at the lignite-fired power plant of RWE Power AG in Niederaussem/Germany to test new solvents from BASF for CO2 scrubbing. Linde will be responsible for the engineering and the construction of the pilot facility. The goal is to apply CO2 capture commercially in lignite-fired power plants by 2020.

Once pilot tests are complete, the partners will decide on a subsequent demonstration plant in 2010. This will be designed to provide a reliable basis for the commercialization of the new process.

RWE and BASF are members of the 30-partner CASTOR (CO2 from Capture to Storage) project partially funded by the European Commission to develop and validate, in public/private partnerships, innovative technologies needed to capture and store CO2 in a reliable and safe way.

In 2005, BASF developed a novel solvent that was more efficient in removing carbon dioxide from power plant emissions and contributed it to the CASTOR project, where it is being tested at a pilot plant in Esbjerg, Denmark.

“Scrubbing” uses chemical solvents to bind CO2. The solvents are then reconditioned to release the CO2. However, conventional solvents are easily degenerated by the oxygen contained in the power-plant waste gas, and the process also requires major input of energy to achieve the absorption, release and storage of CO2.

The amine-based solvent BASF contributed to CASTOR was more stable than conventional solvents, allowing it to be used longer. It also consumed less energy in the process of absorbing and releasing CO2.

RWE Power has earmarked a budget of approximately €80 million for the development project, including the construction and operation of the pilot facility and demonstration plant.

RWE Power is also developing an integrated gasification combined-cycle process (IGCC) coal-fired power plant with CO2 capture, transport and storage. The 450MW plant is due to come on stream in 2014, although no decision has yet been taken as to where it should be located.

RWE Power is the largest German electricity producer, and also provides power in Central/Eastern Europe. RWE Power uses a wide range of energy sources: lignite from open-cast mines in the Rhineland and nuclear energy for the base load, as well as hard coal, gas and renewable energies such as water, wind and biomass for medium and peak loads.

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Comments

Lad

As many of you know, as we make the transition to electric cars, we will impact the power grid decisively. So cleaning up the local air with EVs only addresses part of the problem. We must also pressure the decision makers to require power plants to clean up their pollution. Over 50% of our power comes from coal fired power plants...that's a gross amount of damage to every one's health through SO2, CO2, flyash and NOx. If you comment in blogs and newspapers as I do, please consider helping educating our citizens about the damage coal plants do, especially the old ones, by writing your opinions at every opportunity. I'm not a member of The Sierra Club but you may want to read their following information for your own education: http://www.sierraclub.org/cleanair/factsheets/power.asp

richard schumacher

It's another green fig leaf. Mitigating the global warming effects of coal-fired power plants would require capturing and permanently storing more than one thousand cubic miles of CO2 annually. This is impossible.

Neil

For better of for worse (mostly worse) coal will get used. We might as well do what we can to alleviate the damage while we ramp up the alternatives. A carbon tax would help.

mahonj

It is all a question of the numbers.
How much of the energy generated is needed to run the scrubbers and how much will it increase the capital cost by ?
Then, if it works, you have to "persuade" people to add this (or an equivalent) technology.
Then, you might ask, can this be added to existing power stations, or could we modify the designs of current power stations so that they could be "sequestration ready" so we could roll it out faster when it does become a reality.

Whether we like it or not, the Chinese are building a coal fired unit / week and we had better find a way to clean these ( or future ones ) as quickly as possible.

If people are too afraid of Nuclear, then they had better get to like clean coal, if it really can be done, until something better comes along.

Wave ? Wind + storage ? Solar thermal ? Conservation ?

Rafael Seidl

@ Richard Schumacher -

direct sequestration of such vast quantities of CO2 may indeed prove difficult, even in saline aquifers. One alternative is to use the CO2 for intensive algaculture. The fuel produced is even more expensive, but it does mean more dino-juice can stay in the ground (or at least be brought to the surface later). Intensive algaculture is still very much a nascent technology, though.

@ mahonj -

amine scrubbing is quite expensive, partly because the cheapest solutions involve solvents that are both toxic and corrosive. They are recycled in the process, but still.

Keeping any of these approaches remotely affordable will require substantial conservation efforts.

WhiteBeard

That 1,000 cubic miles is a striking figure and one that I’ve not seen before. Could you provide a link, one that I can believe is creditable, or a computation to support that number? What density, form, etc. are you talking about? I'm truly curious here.

Aussie

The density of liquid CO2 is temperature dependent http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/carbon-dioxide-d_1000.html
but let's say a cubic metre weighs a tonne, same as tap water. How you get the required temperature and pressure is another story. Currently manmade C02 emissions are about 27 gigatonnes a year so let's say we want to capture 10 Gt hence 10^10 cubic metres of liquid CO2 or 10 cubic kilometres. A cubic mile is about 4.2 cubic miles so we need about 2.4 cubic miles to store less than half the world's current emissions.

CCS is stalling tactic exploited by Big Coal and their captive politicians.

Aussie

Woops a cu. mile is approx 4.2 cu. km.

WhiteBeard

Aussie,

Much thanks.

I’ve observed your criticism of sequestration in other threads. While not as completely convinced of CCS unworkability as you, I think its chances of becoming carbon neutral are long enough to let the research funding come from the industry. Unfortunately my congressional delegation just signed onto a measure to provide research for the industry from the public purse.

I’m from a state that produces very large amounts of petroleum, has a large fraction of the US’s reserve of NG – it’s barely been taped – and huge quantities of coal. A small amount of coal is now exported to Asia, and a proposal is going through the early permitting process to open a large surface mine quite nearby, again with product shipped to Asia. Also, a coal fired 100 MW generating plant has been proposed recently at a location quite near me, but using fuel from a different source

Aussie

wb I believe coal could be the cheap fix that will eventually destroy us. Fortunately it will peak early due to the current boom as your area shows. Where I live the state grid was coal-free two years ago and now connector cables have allowed at least 10% penetration. We must urgently correct coal's pollute-for-free status and leave some for future generations to use at a slower rate.

sjc

If IGCC costs more, they should have to do it anyway. They "externalize" the health care and environment costs, which just a fancy way of saying everyone else pays for it, while they make the profits from using a low cost fuel source that pollutes.

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