London April 2017 Biannual: Chem Eng Pilot Planty Tour

This blog was written by Peng Xie, a PhD student at the University of Sheffield, who received funding from the ECR Meeting Fund to attend the UKCCSRC Biannual Meeting in London, 11-12 April 2017.

It is a quite beneficial and enjoyable experience to visit the Chem Eng Pilot Plant in the Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London. The Pilot plant is a post-combustion CO2 capture system, which consists of two columns, both 11 meters high. The state-of-the-art CO2 capture pilot plant representing a scaled-down chemical engineering plant, which has the ability to capture around 500T CO2 per year.

First, we visited the ABB Pilot Plant Control Room, which is the nerve centre of the Carbon Capture Pilot Plant. There are many computers and four big screens in the room, which can control and monitor the plant’s operation in real time. The whole process of CO2 capture in this plant can be clearly observed in the big monitors. Flue gas from CO2 sources such as power plants is contacted with absorbent in the absorber. The treated gas stream with lower CO2 concertation is exhausted and the rich solvent is regenerated in the stripper. From the staff’s introduction, we learned that over two hundred industrial instruments are installed in the Pilot Plant and all the specifications of these instruments can be read in the system. Therefore, the pilot plant can be used to do many teaching as well as research work. Students can have a very good hand-on experience through operating the pilot plant, which make them more employable in a competitive sector. As for research, many research works can achieve by using this pilot plant, such as investigating the controlling system or testing new solvents for CO2 capture, etc. Then, we went to the equipment space to have a close observation of the plant. We can observe the internals of the columns through the transparent windows on the columns. In addition, two students gave us very impressive introduction about the plant and answered many of our questions about the plant.

From the visit, the theory knowledge could be easily understood and if was my first time for me to see many of the instruments. Therefore, I think, the visit was very meaningful and productive.