Biomass combustion ash in carbon capture (Flexible Funding 2020)

We’re excited to share a blog report from one of our Flexible Funding 2020 projects, Salman Masoudi Soltani’s Biomass combustion ash in carbon capture. Here’s what the team have to say about their research:

“Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is a net-negative technology that is recognised by many as a prominent tool in the uphill battle against climate change. However, combustion of biomass is associated with production of large quantities of problematic waste residue, Biomass Combustion Ash (BCA). Coal ash, for example, can find secondary applications within industry as an additive to concrete, whereas BCA has a higher amount of alkali/alkali-earth metals, which render such use inapplicable. However, in our research group we endeavour to produce solid adsorbents from this abundant waste source to be used as the CO2 capturing media, thus, leading to a potential route for in-situ decarbonisation of the power sector via waste valorisation.

Industrial-grade BCA was first collected from a UK power plant and then characterised to identify the most appropriate route and/or material for CO2 capture. The fly ash, due to the high content of aluminium and silica has been proposed as a precursor for zeolite production. Indeed, the zeolitic sorbent obtained via a fusion-hydrothermal synthesis route has was developed.

The bottom ash, however, is a material rich in unburnt carbon, that we have extracted via a simple and industrially mature technique. The produced carbon has a promising CO2 uptake, that can be further enhanced via physical and chemical activation methods.

Figure 1: The produced BCA-derived sorbents

The results obtained from this investigation have been published as part of the IEEE 2021 International Conference on Nanotechnology for which our research group has received the best paper/presentation award. Furthermore, posters created by the RAs have been featured at the Doctoral Research Poster Conference at Brunel University London, where they have also been recognised with the main prize of the fair.

Additionally, as part of this funding call, we were able to arrange a site visit to Drax Power Plant in Selby, UK – the largest biomass combustion power plant in the world providing 6% of the country’s electricity supply. There we had an extensive tour around the facilities gathering insight on both, their biomass combustion ash waste management techniques as well as their carbon capture pilot units. We would like to extend our thanks to Dr Jeni Reeve and Dr Ben Dooley for their continued support throughout this research project as well as other members of Drax Group UK for their help along the way.”

Figure 2: Drax power plant site visit. From left to right: Mike Gorbounov (RA), Ben Petrovic (RA), Dr Salman Masoudi Soltani (PI).


Thanks to Salman and team for the report! See more on the project here.