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EU Research Project on Pre-Combustion Carbon Capture for Coal- and Gas-Fired Plants

Simplified process diagram of pre-combustion concept. Click to enlarge. Source: ENCAP

Norway’s SINTEF will lead a European research project on advanced pre-combustion CO2 capture for coal- and gas-fired power stations. The DECARBit project, which will be coordinated by SINTEF Energy Research, will last for four years, with a total budget of NOK 120 million (US$22 million) , of which NOK 45 million will go to research at SINTEF and NTNU.

Pre-combustion capture is one of the three primary approaches to decarbonizing power generation from fossil fuels, the other two being oxy-fuel combustion and post-combustion capture. Pre-combustion technology is based on the separation of CO2 from a high H2 content gas mixture resulting from either coal gasification or the steam reforming of natural gas under high pressure.

Pre-combustion technologies offer a number of conceptual benefits, including the avoidance of CO2 dilution by the combustion air and a pressure regime (30-60 bar) that allows the application of more efficient separation methods such as pressure swing adsorption.

A predecessor research project on pre-combustion technologies—ENCAP—concluded that further research should be done in the areas of:

  • Validation of absorption technologies in integrated pilot plants.

  • Novel reactor concepts for separation of CO2 and H2 rich fuel gas (membrane adsorption and absorption for the enhanced reforming/gasification process).

  • Development of new gas turbines, especially combustors for hydrogen-enriched fuel gas.

  • Integration of new process steps components design in order to optimize the plant’s operating conditions.

The DECARBit project comprises five sub-projects:

  • SP1: System integration and technical/economic analysis,including operating requirements..

  • SP2: Technologies for advanced pre-combustion separation of CO2, including membranes, CO2 sorbents and novel solvent systems.

  • SP3: Advanced oxygen separation technologies, including oxygen transfer membranes, hybrid membranes, and sorbent-based technologies.

  • SP4: Enabling technologies for pre-combustion capture, including hydrogen combustion, CO2 processing and compression, and fuel systems.

  • SP5: Pilot projects.

DECARBit will involve 14 partners from eight different countries, and has a total budget of more than twice the Norwegian parliament’s annual funding for research of this sort. DECARBit is the first CO2 handling project in the EU’s 7th Framework Programme for research and development, which was launched in 2007.



Harvey D

Does anybody know how many studies have been done or are planned on the release on CO2 from coal, from mining to final burning stage, i.e.:

1) from pre-combustion.
2) from combustion (various types)
3) from post-combustion

What hasppened to all those studies?

Since coal may be a major source of energy (and GHG) for the next 100 years, wouldn't be about time to internationally regulate the maximum CO2 and GHG to be released by each stage mentionned above. Anybody going over the allowed levels should pay a progressive carbon tax. Part of this international carbon tax could be used to finance United Nations operations, to fight Aids, malaria, etc. The remaining could be used to upgrade (clean) existing coal fired power plants and associated operations.

If nothing is done, mining and burning the few trillion tonnes of coal remaining, may very well mess up the environment to the point of no return, within 60 years or less.

Studies are justified but more positive international action is required.


The main aim must be to remove CO2 from partial combustion via insitu gasification of coal or other carbonaceous rock. ICG has a major cost saving since it shouldn't need excavators or underground miners and may be able to reach otherwise unmineable coal seams. Then the separation method adds extra costs. Perhaps some heat could be recovered as the gas emerges at the wellhead. Whether the saving in carbon taxes or CO2 quotas justifies the cost remains to be seen. So long as the results are transparent we can compare it to the alternative...using less coal period.

tom deplume

When I see a concept like this the question arises that is what is the cost of not using the carbon fraction of the fuel? Especially with coal since it has a high carbon to hydrogen ratio.


Shifting all the CO produced to H2 has about 80% efficiency at best.

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