UKCCSRC Spring 2024 Conference – Plenary 2 – Industry Updates: Projects (ECR Meeting Fund)

Niamh Hartley (University of Cambridge), Smitha Gopinath (University of Sheffield), Mike Gorbounov (Brunel University London) and Ibrahim Kadafur (Heriot-Watt University) share their takeaways from “Plenary session 2 – Industry Updates: Projects” at the UKCCSRC Spring 2024 Conference.

In the second session of the conference, we were able to listen to two industrial businesses about how they are moving towards integrating carbon capture into their processes. The first talk was from Edward Thomas from Viridor. Viridor is a waste company committed to being carbon neutral by 2040 and carbon negative by 2045 – two very exciting goals from the largest energy recovery process in the UK.

The talk was centered on Runcorn Energy Recovery Facility, based in Manchester, which currently processes 1 million tonnes of waste per year. Edward asked, “Should the waste sector be taking part in carbon capture?”, and his answer was a resounding yes! The combined heat and power can produce electricity and heat energy from steam for the community, while the CO2 emissions will be captured using a MEA-based solvent system. This allows the community of Greater Manchester to benefit from their own waste production, 51% of which is biogenic.

We then heard from VPI Immingham for Humber Zero introduced by Karina Castaneda Diaz, with Mayowa Akinrinlola giving a detailed overview. VPI has provided power and steam to 25% of the UK since 2004 from two refineries: Humber oil refinery and Lindsey oil refinery. Humber Zero is a carbon capture project based at Humber oil refinery with the goal to capture 3.8 million tons of CO2 per year. This will not only reduce CO2 emissions but also invigorate the local community with £2 billion of investment and 2500+ jobs created. This is planned to be in commercial operation by 2028, however not without its challenges.

Mayowa then gave some insight into the various hiccups experienced when retrofitting a post-combustion carbon capture plant. Integrating a capture plant requires a large number of infrastructural changes alongside some congestion problems within the pre-existing emitters – ducting seemed to be a surprisingly big issue! Other challenges such as NOx control and constructability were also discussed, drawing a more detailed understanding of how carbon capture can be implemented in a pre-existing processes.

Both companies were committed to carbon capture with the view that an extra step in the process will create more jobs for the local communities and the investment will help the local areas. The focus of helping and working alongside the local community around these plants was refreshing and exciting to see. Let’s hope these capture plants can be implemented soon!