High Permeance Membranes for Rapid-Response Retro-fit Carbon Capture

Reducing CO2 emissions to reduce global climate change is one of the greatest technological challenges facing humanity. The objective of this research project is to investigate the feasibility of using highly CO2 permeable membranes for carbon capture in order to help achieve the aspirations of the Paris Agreement or, in the event of accelerating climate change, for use in the emergency retrofit of coal-fired power stations. The project will involve the following objectives.
(a) The preparation of novel ultrapermeable Polymers of Intrinsic Microporosity (PIMs), designed to demonstrate enhanced selectivity for CO2.
(b) The measurements of their gas permeability.
(c) The evaluation of their potential as the selective layer of membranes for carbon capture and, in particular, the retrofit of coal-fired power stations.
Projected energy use and cost will be modelled based upon the measured performance of the PIM membranes. The combined complementary expertise of the investigators and named PDRA in polymer synthesis, membrane science and chemical engineering will ensure rapid progress towards achieving the project objectives.

Planned Impact

1. Commercial, Economic and Industry benefit.
CCS is an industry in its early stages of development and requires significant innovation and cost reduction, especially in novel carbon capture technologies, where over 50% of the full chain cost lies. Taking an early lead in the development of new technologies will provide clear benefits in terms of both National and International competitiveness. A global leader in the manufacture of membranes for gas separation applications (MTR) is already directly involved in and is supporting the proposed project.

2. Environmental and Energy benefits.
The UK Climate Change Committee has clearly identified a need to develop CCS technologies in view of the plans for decarbonisation of the power sector by the 2030s. Therefore this project aims to develop the fundamental underpinning science necessary to develop improved carbon capture solutions that will help meet both environmental benefits (i.e. reduced emissions) and energy benefits (i.e. continued use of fossil fuels for security of supply). The development of an economically feasible CCS system to a world that is still heavily dependent on fossil fuel power stations could be the UK’s most important contribution to cutting global CO2 emissions.

3. Influencing Public opinion and Policy.
The results of this project will allow reliable predictions of the performance of novel membranes for carbon capture technology, providing information that will guide policy development for CCS implementation.
Ultimately, if CCS becomes necessary, the general public may benefit from the cheaper cost of energy obtained using a more efficient process and, therefore, are likely to be more supportive of its implementation.