CCS funding

E.ON and the EPSRC have announced an award of £6.9m of research funding to four university-led projects investigating carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.

CCS is a process that allows carbon dioxide to be captured from power stations and then stored underground to prevent it from entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Scientists and engineers are making continuous advancements on the technology to hopefully make fossil-fuelled generation a lower carbon source of energy.

Project teams led by the universities of Nottingham, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Leeds will investigate combustion and CO2 capture and transport technologies that could help make a crucial step towards meeting UK and global emission reduction targets.

‘CCS is the most important technology we have in the fight against climate change – if we can get it right then we can look forward to a secure, low carbon energy future for the UK,’ said Paul Golby, chief executive of E.ON UK.

‘Alongside new nuclear and renewable sources, coal is a vital part of our energy mix. These latest research projects are vital in identifying solutions that will enable fossil-fuel generation to be a key part of maintaining secure, affordable and low carbon energy.

‘Collaborations such as this one with the EPSRC are combining innovation and some of the best minds in our universities to deliver clean, sustainable energy systems for the future.’

The government has announced plans to cut carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. In the short term the government advisory body, the Committee on Climate Change, has suggested an interim cut of at least 34 per cent by 2020.

‘This illustrates the enormous benefit that can arise from strategic partnerships such as the one we have with E.ON,’ said David Delpy, chief executive of the EPSRC.

‘Carbon capture and storage is already a research priority for UK researchers and through previous research council funding we have built up a significant expertise within the academic sector. The research programmes we’re announcing today mean that we can rapidly build on this expertise and speed up the introduction of these vital greener energy technologies.’

The University of Nottingham will lead a consortium of four universities looking at how the surfaces of materials can be chemically altered to enhance CO2 absorption or ‘soak up’ rates. This may be an alternative to chemical absorption using amines in post-combustion capture systems. The other participants are the University of Birmingham, the University of Liverpool and University College London.

Newcastle University is leading a project to address some of the technical and material challenges of large-scale transportation of CO2 through pipelines. This will help the development of a storage pipeline network.

The other members of the group are University College London, the University of Nottingham, Cranfield University and Imperial College London as well as range of industry partners.

The University of Leeds, Imperial College London, Cranfield University and the universities of Kent, Nottingham and Cambridge are working on the oxyfuel combustion process, in which coal is burned in a mix of pure oxygen and power station flue gases, creating a stream of CO2 that can be captured for storage.

The EPSRC is funding a fourth consortium, led by the University of Edinburgh, on improving the economics of large-scale carbon capture and storage and how to separate CO2 formed by emissions from fossil-fuel power stations.