Research visit to enable CO2 capture from coal power plant using membranes

By Simon Roussanaly

Electricity generation from coal represents 41 and 30 percent of the world and European electricity generation, respectively. In this perspective, CCS is considered a promising measure in reducing CO2 emissions and negative climate impact from power generation.

As part of the BIGGCS FME Centre, promising technologies for CO2 capture such as membranes are being investigated. A new methodology for design and optimization of membrane-based CO2 capture, called the «attainable region approach», has been developed by Karl Lindqvist, Rahul Anantharaman, and Simon Roussanaly from SINTEF Energy Research. This results in more energy- and cost-efficient processes.

Based on this work, SINTEF initiated in 2015 collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh PA, USA), one of the top US universities. The aim has been to use the new approach to identify the membrane properties required to obtain membrane-based CO2 capture processes, which are able to compete in term of cost with commercial technology. As part of this collaboration, Simon Roussanaly, Research Scientist at SINTEF Energy Research, has been visiting Haibo Zhai and Edward Rubin, professors at the Engineering and Public Policy Department of Carnegie Mellon University.

Simon i USA

Professor Haibo Zhai and Simon Roussanaly on the Carnegie Mellon University campus (September, 2015)

The collaboration led to identification of competitive membrane properties for the membrane-based processes relative to MEA-based CO2 capture in a post-combustion coal-fired power plant, i.e. when considering both technologies as mature and demonstrated. However, since the membrane-based CO2 capture is at an earlier level of demonstration and maturity than MEA-based CO2 capture, and that there are uncertainties about the membrane module cost, the work also addressed the impact of these two parameters on the membrane properties required.

The results obtained were then used in order to evaluate how existing and membrane modules under development, as well as polymeric materials which could be used to develop membrane modules, are performing. Recommendations were given on the best ways to improve the new membrane modules and on materials potentially relevant for membrane development.

The results of the collaboration were presented at the 2015 Pittsburgh Coal Conference and have received very positive feedbacks. A journal article will be submitted to the Journal of Membrane Science, which is one of the top journals in the field.

Simon at Pittsburg

Simon Roussanaly giving his presentation at the 2015 Pittsburg Coal Conference

In addition to these achievements, the research visit has contributed in knowledge sharing and fruitful activity discussions between SINTEF, Carnegie Mellon University and National Energy Technology Laboratories.

This research visit has been supported financial by both the BIGCCS FME Centre and the CLIMIT program and lasted seven weeks during the autumn 2015.