Fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas still contribute around 85% of global energy consumption. Carbon capture, transport, use and storage are essential in reducing the environmental impact of growing energy production and consumption.

Ambitious worldwide targets for carbon reduction will rely on alternative energy sources but carbon reduction from conventional fuel sources is essential if we are to meet those targets without a drastic reduction in our energy use and consumption patterns. 

We are involved in developing methodologies and technologies for carbon capture, transport and storage in the following research areas:

  • Hydrogen production from gaseous and solid fuels
  • Post-combustion processes based on chemical absorption (e.g. using amines) or adsorption using solid sorbents
  • Pre-combustion CO2 capture processes for gaseous fuels and coal-based Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) with shift reactors for H2-rich syngas production
  • Oxy-fuel processes with carbon capture for coal-fired boilers and advanced gas turbines
  • Chemical looping processes for oxy-combustion, syngas upgrading an low cost oxygen production
  • Calcium looping for low cost CO2 capture
  • Membrane technologies for CO2 separation and oxygen generation
  • Advanced turbine development with power augmentation and exhaust gas recycle
  • Carbon transport, compression and pipeline engineering including corrosion studies.

Working with us

Our multidisciplinary, sector-focused approach and impressive range of world-class yet flexible facilities allows us to undertake research, either as direct support or in collaboration with our clients and their partners. Combined with our academic expertise, we can develop methods, processes and technologies for carbon capture, transport and storage.

Close-to-industrial scale demonstrations of new technologies or approaches are possible within our facilities as well as testing and troubleshooting, aimed at reducing the risk of further scale-up. The facilities are routinely modified and adapted to meet client needs and can be operated used for the collection of performance and reliability data, to assess the behaviour of process and structural materials and to test control strategies and process/component life prediction models.

Our modelling capabilities range from the development of new power cycles, the prediction of component performance/reliability/residual life, the impacts of changing operating conditions to technical and environmental risk management and techno-economics.

We can provide independent reviews of new plant design or recommend modifications to optimise existing practice.

Training and education is an important part of the service we provide at postgraduate level including Masters and PhD programmes, short courses and bespoke training for companies.

Our facilities

Extensive, pilot-scale facilities are available onsite supporting research and analytical equipment for carbon capture research.

50kWth Chemical Looping Pilot Plant – the largest of its kind in the UK, this unit has full process and gas analysis for studies of the oxy-combustion of a wide range of fuels, upgrading of synthetic fuel gases/generation of hydrogen and the production of oxygen. This pilot plant can provide input and validation engineering data for process and other system models for technology scale-up and for the performance assessment of solid reactants/sorbents using a range of real and synthetic fuel gases.

200kWth Circulating Fluidised Bed Combustor/Gasifier Pilot Plant – this fully-instrumented unit can be used to investigate the air/oxygen combustion of a wide range of solid feedstocks to assess process efficiency and environmental impact in terms of CO2 emissions, conventional pollutants (SOx, NOx, CO) and unburned hydrocarbons (PAHs, dioxins and furans), as well as the full suite of heavy metals. As a gasifier, it can use a range of fossil, biomass and waste fuels and includes downstream high temperature filtration, sorbent injection for CO2/H2S/HCl reduction and selective oxidation for NH3 reduction, plus test sections for the exposure of candidate materials and monitoring devices.

150kWth Pulverised Fuel and Fluidised Bed Combustor Pilot Plant (for air- and oxy-firing) – this unit has been extensively used to support the development of oxy-combustion in the UK and is equipped with temperature/deposition probes and sampling ports permitting optical sampling, as well as a comprehensive gas analysis capability. It has recently been equipped with a sensitive acid deposition/corrosion monitoring system (electrochemical noise/probes) to explore the production of SO3, to evaluate the risk of dew-point corrosion and to control the composition of the flue gas recycle.

750kWth Gas Turbine Burner Rig – this unit is a unique facility which has been widely used in international projects to explore gas turbine deposition/hot corrosion/erosion in cycles involving CCS (e.g. IGCC + pre-combustion capture). The rig is equipped for the injection of contaminant gases, liquids and solids to simulate any gas turbine environment and provides gas temperatures up to 1500oC. It is widely used to evaluate material/coating performance with real time deposition of contaminant species using an array of cooled probes or a turbine aerofoil cascade.

100kWth Gas Turbine Burner Rig – this rig which is currently under construction is aimed specifically at the integration of CO2 capture technologies with gas turbines, using exhaust gas recycle/membrane-assisted selective recycle/steam injection to boost exhaust gas CO2 levels and power output. It is being configured to operate with a range of fuel gas compositions, from methane/biogas to low CV syngases.

CO2 Transport Flow Rig – the only facility of its kind in the UK, providing a continuous flow of supercritical CO2 (>100bar) with the capability for the addition of a complete range of gaseous contaminants, at precise levels, to the dense phase flow in this unit. It is capable of exploring the impacts of contaminants on phase chemistry, for which the gas stream can be examined using a range of spectroscopic techniques. The unit has a large chamber for exposing coupons to evaluate the corrosion damage mechanisms to pipeline/compressor materials, coatings and seals.

Ca-looping Pilot Plant (50kWth) – comprises an entrained flow carbonator and a bubbling, oxy-fired fluidised bed calciner/regenerator. It has been used extensively to explore the performance of Ca-based sorbents for CO2 capture, and recently to investigate trace metals emissions from this process.

High and Low Pressure Combustion Rigs – these gas turbine combustion rigs are suitable for combustion trials with upgraded, post CO2 capture high-H2 fuel gases and low/medium CV syngases (with H2, CO, CO2, CH4, NH3, H2O, N2, etc.). Amongst these rigs, there is a high pressure combustor capable of operating up to 15bar/1800K at up to 4.2kg/s and a bench-scale rig rated at 30bar/1500K and 400g/s.

Find out more about our unique facilities.

Clients and partners

We frequently work with a number of research and industrial clients. We can provide one-to-one consultancy solutions or work as part of a consortium of partners.

Research partners include:

• Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)
• Energy Technologies Institute (ETI)
• Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
• Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
• Innovate UK.

Business clients we have worked with include:

• Doosan Babcock
• E.ON
• npower
• Siemens.

We are one of the founding members of the UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre (UKCCSRC). This is supported by the EPSRC as part of the Research Councils UK Energy Programme, with additional funding from DECC.