The motivation for this proposal is that the global reliance on fossil fuels is set to increase with the rapid growth of Asian economies and major discoveries of shale gas in developed nations. The strategic vision of the IDC is to develop a world-leading Centre for Industrial Doctoral Training focussed on delivering research leaders and next-generation innovators with broad economic, societal and contextual awareness, having strong technical skills and capable of operating in multi-disciplinary teams covering a range of knowledge transfer, deployment and policy roles. They will be able to analyse the overall economic context of projects and be aware of their social and ethical implications. These skills will enable them to contribute to stimulating UK-based industry to develop next-generation technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and ultimately improve the UK’s position globally through increased jobs and exports. The Centre will involve over 50 recognised academics in carbon capture & storage (CCS) and cleaner fossil energy to provide comprehensive supervisory capacity across the theme for 70 doctoral students. It will provide an innovative training programme co-created in collaboration with our industrial partners to meet their advanced skills needs.
The industrial letters of support demonstrate a strong need for the proposed Centre in terms of research to be conducted and PhDs that will be produced, with 10 new companies willing to join the proposed Centre including EDF Energy, Siemens, BOC Linde and Caterpillar, together with software companies, such as ANSYS, involved with power plant and CCS simulation. We maintain strong support from our current partners that include Doosan Babcock, Alstom Power, Air Products, the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), Tata Steel, SSE, RWE npower, Johnson Matthey, E.ON, CPL Industries, Clean Coal Ltd and Innospec, together with the Biomass & Fossil Fuels Research Alliance (BF2RA), a grouping of companies across the power sector. Further, we have engaged SMEs, including CMCL Innovation, 2Co Energy, PSE and C-Capture, that have recently received Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)/Technology Strategy Board (TSB)/ETI/EC support for CCS projects. The active involvement companies have in the research projects, make an IDC the most effective form of CDT to directly contribute to the UK maintaining a strong R&D base across the fossil energy power and allied sectors and to meet the aims of the DECC CCS Roadmap in enabling industry to define projects fitting their R&D priorities.
The major technical challenges over the next 10-20 years identified by our industrial partners are:
(i) implementing new, more flexible and efficient fossil fuel power plant to meet peak demand as recognised by electricity market reform incentives in the Energy Bill, with efficiency improvements involving materials challenges and maximising biomass use in coal-fired plant;
(ii) deploying CCS at commercial scale for near-zero emission power plant and developing cost reduction technologies which involves improving first-generation solvent-based capture processes, developing next-generation capture processes, and understanding the impact of impurities on CO2 transport and storage;
(iimaximising the potential of unconventional gas, including shale gas, ‘tight’ gas and syngas produced from underground coal gasification; and
(iii) developing technologies for vastly reduced CO2 emissions in other industrial sectors: iron and steel making, cement, refineries, domestic fuels and small-scale diesel power generatort and
These challenges match closely those defined in EPSRC’s Priority Area of ‘CCS and cleaner fossil energy’. Further, they cover biomass firing in conventional plant defined in the Bioenergy Priority Area, where specific issues concern erosion, corrosion, slagging, fouling and overall supply chain economics.