Drax Power Station’s bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) pilot has sequestered its first carbon dioxide, in what the company claims is a world first.
Developed in partnership with Leeds-based C-Capture, the demonstration unit will gather just one ton of CO2 per day, a drop in the ocean of Drax’s overall carbon output. If scaled up, however, the technology could potentially be used to help decarbonise the energy sector, with Drax claiming it could become the world’s first negative emissions power station.
“Proving that this innovative carbon capture technology works is an exciting development and another important milestone in our BECCS project,” said Drax Group CEO, Will Gardiner. “Climate change affects us all so this is of real significance – not just for us at Drax, but also for the UK and the rest of the world.
“The successful deployment of BECCS requires us to identify ways in which the carbon dioxide we’re now capturing can be stored or used in other processes and we’re working with the government and other businesses on that.”
Announced last May, the pilot BECCS unit was commissioned in November. It uses a proprietary solvent developed by C-Capture to isolate the carbon dioxide from the flue gases released when biomass pellets are burned. Work to establish the compatibility of the solvent with Drax’s biomass flue gases was completed last summer, along with a lab-scale study into the feasibility of re-utilising the flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) absorbers at the power station. Data from the BECCS pilot will now be analysed to establish the potential of the technology to be scaled up.
“Working at this scale is really where the engineering gets interesting,” said Caspar Schoolderman, director of Engineering at C-Capture. “The challenge now is to get all the information we need to design and build a capture plant 10,000 times bigger. It’s only really when we get to those sorts of scales that we can start to have an impact on the climate.”