Biomass CCS session at the September 2014 Cardiff Biannual – Part 2

Written by Monica Garcia from Cranfield University, whose attendance at the UKCCSRC Cardiff Biannual Meeting was supported by the ECR Meeting Fund.

The second two presentations in the Biomass CCS session were given by Guy Lomax (Imperial College London) and Magdalena Titirici (Queen Mary University of London).

Magdelena Titirici (Queen Mary Unversity London) – High-performance CO2 sorbents from algae

Post-combustion is a highly developed technology to be used for carbon capture. One of the methodologies used is the physical absorption by the use of porous materials such as zeolites and porous carbon.

In this regard, Magdelena Titirici is currently working on the development of novel sorbents obtained by hydrothermal carbonization using microalgae as raw material to be used in the absorption within the post-combustion system.

For that, properties of sorbents are taken into account for increasing the CO2 capture and its availability in the market: (i) large CO2 uptake, (ii) high sorption rate, (iii) good selectivity between CO2 and other competing gases in the stream, (iv) easy regeneration and (v) low-cost and high availability.

Spirulina plantesis microalgae have shown high porosity efficiency, fast growing biomass and high protein content. Moreover, it is highly available. These characteristics make it a good option to be considered as raw material for novel sorbents production.

Magdelena showed results from the characterization (SEM, pore size distribution, elemental analysis, XPS and CO2 absorption under different conditions). The values showed a linear correlation between the volume of micro-pores and CO2 capture.

Additionally, the method developed represents a higher yield and better control of resulting porosity.

In conclusion, this is a promising approach for synthesis of carbon-based sorbents for CO2 capture. Moreover, it is based on a green and sustainable process.  This result is a key point for the future design of high-performance CO2 sorbents. Additionally, those sorbents are easily and completely regenerated, without the energy-penalty associated with the use of amine-based sorbents or systems.

Guy Lomax (Imperial College London) – A Policy Strategy for Biomass CCS in the UK

When considering novel technologies to be competitive in the current traditional market, policies are a key factor to consider. CO2 capture aims to develop green technologies for decreasing CO2 emissions and methods based on bioenergy systems are contributing to efforts to develop systems with negative emissions.

Guy Lomax talked about the importance of new policies associated with the combination of two novel methodologies for decreasing CO2 emissions: bioenergy and CCS technologies. As both technologies are still under development, this is a sector in which more work is needed.

There is a lack of incentive for negative emissions that produces uncertainly and high risk for investments, technical barriers and associated economic penalties.

Guy Lomax showed different Bio-CCS integration and policy challenges for increasing the viability of the Bio-CCS sector.

As examples given during his presentation for building flexibility to reduce lock-out risks, new policies could be focused in the following actions: (i) incentivise flexibility in early CCS and bioenergy projects to allow later conversion, (ii) support early co-firing and other opportunities to develop supply chains and business experience, (iii) R&D investment for advanced combustion and capture technologies most suited to Bio-CCS, (iv) early commitment to integration of negative emissions to policy support frameworks.

In conclusion, new policies should be focused in a) the development of subsystems in order to get a commercial CCS system, supporting the scale-up of the different technologies; b) the support of systems based on negative emissions; and c) the development and creation of incentives for the flexibility of Bio-CCS for an efficiency increase.