THE University of Melbourne and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology company CO2CRC have opened new CCS research laboratories at the university.
The A$7.56m (US$5.75m) laboratory’s main aim will be reducing the cost of carbon capture and storage technologies. Geoff Stevens, an IChemE Fellow, Melbourne chemical engineering professor and CO2CRC project leader, said that the laboratory will carry out research into CCS for both power generation and industrial processes.
“Carbon capture and storage will provide 13% of global emissions reductions by 2050. It is the only technology that can be applied to energy-intensive industries such as cement, steel, chemical and fertiliser production, and it can reduce emissions from fossil-fuelled power generation by up to 98%,” said Stevens.
The operator of the new facility will be Melbourne’s Peter Cook Centre for CCS Research, which is funded by the university, CO2CRC, Rio Tinto and the state government of Victoria. It looks at capture processes, options for storing captured CO2 and legal and social policies surrounding CCS. Some of its research includes running pilot CCS plants at a local brown coal power station, and the development of a potassium carbonate capture process which Stevens says may lower the cost of the process.
Stevens told The Chemical Engineer that the new laboratories will give the Peter Cook Centre a number of new capabilities in three specific areas not previously possible, including being able to investigate the potential of bioenergy sources to be used alongside carbon capture technology in order to create a power plant with negative emissions.
A collaboration between Melbourne’s chemical engineering and geosciences departments will look at how to control CO2 migration within reservoirs, by using specific chemistry to control the porosity of the rocks. This, said Stevens, will be particularly important if CO2 starts to migrate through the rocks in unforeseen ways.
“The third example is the development of encapsulated solvents in conjunction with our collaborators at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US. We’re looking at the development of encapsulated potassium carbonate solvents to significantly reduce the energy requirement for CO2 recovery from exhaust gases,” adds Stevens.
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