Smart porous beads
From a university in Austria to a biowaste plant in the Netherlands. Effective partnerships are crucial for scaling up new technologies and sharing knowledge. “The interaction and collaboration with other experts are key ingredients to why I enjoy my work.” So says Gabrielle. Besides this, developing new technology requires curiosity. “I love the challenge of the unknown.”
What are you holding in your hand?
“A little bottle with sorbent. We also call them beads and they can extract CO2 from waste gases.”
What solution are you working on?
“These synthetic spherical porous beads can extract CO2 from flue gases. Prior to leaving the plant via the chimney, the flue gases are routed to an installation in which the beads circulate. This is where the CO2 attaches to the sorbent in a so-called adsorber column. Almost clean flue gas, with 90% less CO2, then leaves via the chimney. In a so-called regenerator column that is also part of the plant, the CO2 is again released from the sorbent. We can store or reuse this CO2. The beads can circulate in the installation for around a year before they need to be replaced. We estimate the total cost savings compared to existing technologies that use a liquid amine solution at 25%. The Solid Sorbent Technology contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by industries in an efficient and affordable manner.”
“This technology can serve as a solution for decades. We simply cannot switch to renewables overnight.”
What exactly do you do?
“I work on the design of an SST installation at the sustainable energy power plant BMC Moerdijk. We call this project TulipGreenCO2. This installation will allow us to treat the flue gas of the biowaste power plant with this new technology. In addition to the design of the installation, we assess how we can integrate our unit with the installation of BMC. We investigate how we can make maximum use of BMC’s utilities and facilities, such as for example steam, electricity, cooling water, the control room and weighbridge. We are also looking at what the best location is for our installation at the BMC site. In addition to this, we are developing new sorbents in the lab so to adsorb CO2 even more efficiently.”
“TulipGreenCO2 is a demonstration project. Demonstrating means de-risking the technology, so to speak. This is a new technology. Building something that may have been proven to work on a small scale can bring different challenges when scaling it up. It is therefore common practice to first build a smaller version of a commercial installation. Here you test whether the technology works the way you envisaged from a mechanical point of view. We know the process of adsorbing and regeneration works. However, the installation is a new design and for example, we look at whether the sorbent circulates properly through the installation, etc. Both expected as well as unexpected things will happen; that is what we have to experience and learn from before the technology can be applied on an even larger scale.”
Who do you work with?
“Together with the University of Vienna, we conducted a pilot at a biomass plant in Austria. This experiment was for 1 ton of CO2 per day. This pilot proved that the technology works. For the next step, the demonstration project, we are working together with BMC Moerdijk. They will be the host site. BMC Moerdijk burns chicken poop and generates renewable power. Enough to supply a city like Den Bosch with energy. The chicken poop ashes are used as fertilizer. This circularity will soon also be available for the flue gases by capturing the CO2. The pilot plant from Austria is already at BMC to test various sorbents. For the larger demonstration plant at BMC, we will form a consortium, bringing even more partners onboard of this exciting project.”
What’s in it for the consumer?
“We design the demonstration project at BMC Moerdijk for a capacity of 150 – 200 tons of CO2 per day, with the aim of reusing or storing it. This is equivalent to the emissions of more than 7,000 households. If this demonstration is a success, this technology can help reduce CO2 emissions to air globally.”
Carbon Capture, Utilisation & Storage (CCUS), the capture of CO2 to use it or store it underground, is one of the enablers to actually achieve climate objectives. Shell engineers like Gabrielle are working on the so-called Solid Sorbent Technology (SST). This is a technology that uses a solid adsorbent to separate CO2 from flue gases originating from (bio)gas-fired power plants, industry (e.g. cement, steel, chemistry) or hydrogen manufacturing.
Carbon Capture, Utilization & Storage (CCUS), ofwel het afvangen van CO2 om het vervolgens te gebruiken of ondergronds op te slaan is één van de maatregelen om de klimaatdoelstellingen daadwerkelijk te halen.
In collaboration with various partners, ETCA researchers are working hard on energy solutions for today and tomorrow. But what exactly are those solutions? And what’s in it for the consumer? Five Shell researchers show an object from their research and talk about what they do and why it matters. Read the short interviews here.