Core research programme

What core research are we funding from 2017-2022?

In our latest grant, we fund a programme of core research on carbon capture and storage (CCS). It’s split into three main themes, which are interconnected:

  • Capture, along with combined capture and systems projects (Theme A)
    Our capture projects focus on improving the performance and costs of CO2 capture technologies and systems, including integration with hydrogen, to ensure CCS scale up to a larger commercial scale. The two main threads running through the theme are: Biomass-enhanced CCS and advanced solid looping cycles. Both of these threads encompass basic laboratory research, appropriate scale-up, detailed modelling and incorporation of the detailed models into UK systems models.
  • Transport and storage (Theme B)
    Our storage projects look at CO2 transport, injection, migration and storage. A large number of potential offshore storage sites lie beneath the North Sea with a capacity of many tens of billions of tonnes of injected CO2. This is a significant potential commercial asset for the UK. The Oxburgh report highlights that uncertainties in long-term storage security and the transfer of long-term liability are currently impeding the deployment of CCS. Our core research will focus on pressure propagation (WP B1) and plume migration (WP B2) within structurally and stratigraphically heterogeneous reservoirs. The work will help to address poorly-known aspects of geomechanical security, plume stability and site monitorability through a deliberately connected and integrated scale-up with laboratory, outcrop, and field-scale studies.
  • Systems and policy (Theme C)
    Our systems and policy projects consider the social, technological and economic issues surrounding CCS’s role within the UK’s energy system and how it contributes to achieving our climate goals in the Paris agreement. The Theme will deliver integrating systems modelling, social science research and policy-oriented outputs working closely across all relevant themes and work packages.

Jump to each area by clicking on the links above, or scroll down to explore and click on each tile to find out more about individual research projects in each area.

You can also see how these projects fit together as a complete work programme here.

UKCCSRC Supported Core Research Capture Projects

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A1 Materials development

Researcher: Dr Camille Petit

This work package is dedicated to identifying and producing CO2 capture materials that can compete with the current – though not satisfactory – benchmark in the field. The potential for scale up of these materials is to be explored using unique facilities available at UK universities.
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AC1 Bio energy carbon capture and storage

Researchers: Dr Karen Finney, Prof. Lin Ma, Prof. Mohamed Pourkashanian

Using the PACT facilities we'll investigate a range of biomass fuels coupled with different CCS technologies, including post-combustion & oxy-fuel methods. This is vital for scaling up projects to a larger commercial scale to make a real world impact on emissions reductions. This work package investigates the impurities in the fuels that can detrimentally impact the capture process & will devise strategies to limit the adverse effects these can have.
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AC4 Integration options for hydrogen and clean power synergies

Researchers: Dr Hannah Chalmers, Dr Mathieu Lucquiaud

In the UK energy supply system of the future, electricity and hydrogen (used to decarbonise transport, space heating and industry) could be two low carbon energy vectors which may be generated in the same location: in low carbon CCS industrial clusters with a common infrastructure. We investigate integration of the process of hydrogen production with electricity generation from the same fuel source, natural gas. The objective is to achieve cost reduction via sharing of subcomponents of the CO2 capture process and via flexibility to cope with varied demand of both vectors over time.
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A2a Pilot testing #1

Researchers: Prof. Hao Liu, Prof. Colin Snape

To drive down the cost of CO2 capture, it is essential to develop more cost effective technologies than amine scrubbing, which has been adopted from the oil and gas industry. One such technology is solid adsorbents for CO2 capture. A pilot scale facility for testing will address the key issues concerning scale up, including the thermal and mechanical stability, and moisture sensitivity of the new adsorbents under real process conditions.
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AC2 Advanced, high-efficient cycles using gas turbines with S-CO2 or direct oxy-fired CCGT-CCS

Researchers: Prof. Phil Bowen, Prof. Lin Ma, Dr Richard Marsh, Prof. Mohamed Pourkashanian

Here, we investigate a novel system for CO2 capture from a gas turbine. The aim is to boost the concentration of CO2 in the exhaust of the system by partially recycling the gas. We will also investigate the potential for a radically new cycle involving oxygen firing (with recycled CO2 to keep the temperature down).
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AC5 Reduced order models

Researchers: Dr Karen Finney, Dr Solomon Brown, Prof. Meihong Wang

Algorithms are being developed to simplify and speed up the computational models used in CCS research. This is done through creating metamodels, which once complete, will be used to analyse how various carbon capture technologies can impact the UK energy system as a whole. Policy makers could also use this as a tool to inform their strategic decisions about how CCS works at a system level.
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A2b Pilot testing #2

Researcher: Prof. Ben Anthony, Prof. Colin Snape

This work package will investigate the use of CO2 capture and oxygen carrying materials within Cranfield University’s state-of-the-art pilot plant facilities. These materials will be manufactured at the kilogram scale in collaboration with our partners. We are aiming to study the structural properties of the particles and look at their particle breakage mechanisms when fluidised under realistic operating conditions.
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AC3 Detailed models

Researchers: Dr Stuart Scott

This project will construct detailed models of the applications of the new capture materials being developed in work packages A1 and A2. The models produced will be validated and used to feed back to the experimental work at Imperial College London, Cranfield University and the University of Nottingham, but will be too complex for direct use in system level models. The process models will therefore feed into the development of the reduced order models in AC5.
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UKCCSRC Supported Core Research Storage Projects

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B1 Pressure propagation and control

Researchers: Dr Andy Chadwick, Prof. Stuart Haszeldine, Dr Stuart Gilfillan, Dr Sam Krevor, Dr Jerome Neufeld, Dr Gareth Williams, John Williams
Injecting CO2 into the subsurface will cause a temporary increase in the pressure of fluids trapped within the rocks. Understanding how this pressure wave travels through the rocks and the possible effects of increasing pressure in the subsurface are important to ensure the safe containment of the CO2. To improve our ability to predict the volume of CO2 which can be stored, we are modelling the propagation of pressure throughout the reservoir. By constructing reduced models to explain this surface ground deformation in current storage sites, we can increase our understanding of the distribution of pressure over time within storage reservoirs.
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B2 CO2 migration and storage

Researchers: Dr Andy Chadwick, Prof. Stuart Haszeldine, Dr Stuart Gilfillan, Dr Sam Krevor, Dr Jerome Neufeld, Dr Gareth Williams, John Williams

In planning to inject CO2 underground it's important to be able to predict where and how quickly CO2 will move, and where it will be trapped. These predictions are made difficult by a combination of the complexities of fluid dynamics and the unknown and heterogeneous nature of the subsurface rocks in which CO2 will be stored. To improve our ability to design CO2 storage projects and estimate the capacity of a formation for CO2 storage, we're studying key problems at a range of size scales of importance to CO2 storage. This includes questions such as: How does rock heterogeneity impact the flow pathways of injected CO2? How quickly does CO2 dissolve into water in the subsurface? And, what can we measure about rocks in the laboratory that would enable us to answer these questions at the larger scales associated with underground CO2 plume movement?
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B3 CO2 modelling software

Researchers: Dr Sam Krevor, Dr Jerome Neufeld, Dr Stuart Gilfillan, Dr Gareth Williams, John Williams

Two scoping studies aim to investigate a fit-for-purpose numerical simulator for offshore UK CO2 stores. Using the correct physics, this research aims to begin a design process to make better software predicting CO2 saturation and spread.

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B4 Scoping/development of a proposed CO2 geolab

Researchers: Dr Andy Chadwick, Prof. Stuart Haszeldine, Dr Stuart Gilfillan, John Williams

This work package aims to examine the feasibility of developing a pilot scale CO2 injection test site in the UK. Many other countries have developed their own CO2 injection test facilities (eg Germany, Spain, United States, Australia, Canada) and we believe that it would be beneficial for the UK to have its own as well. This would comprise a research facility to test typical UK storage reservoir rocks with experiments focussed on particular uncertainties in UK underground storage, and to develop a core of practical storage expertise in UK scientists. Ideally the research site would be situated in an area where CO2 is already available from industrial sources and where the potential for future larger scale offshore storage is present.
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UKCCSRC Supported Core Research Systems and Policy Projects

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CAB1 Cross cutting value of CCS

Researchers: Dr Paul Dodds, Dr Niall Mac Dowell, Prof. Nilay Shah, Prof. Goran Strbac

This work serves as an integrating effort across the three main themes of Capture, Storage, and Systems and Policy. We explore the social, technical, and economic barriers and advantages associated with the large scale deployment of CCS in the UK’s energy system and will provide insight as to how CCS can best be deployed to maximise value to the UK’s economy.
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CA1 BECCS within the energy system

Researchers: Dr Niall Mac Dowell, Prof. Nilay Shah

In order to meet the Paris climate target, we need to remove significant amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere, with bioenergy plus CCS (BECCS) considered a promising option. However, sustainable biomass is a scarce resource, and must be used in the best manner possible. This work will study how biomass can optimally be used to both remove CO2 from the atmosphere and simultaneously provide renewable energy services.
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CB1 Social license to operate

Researchers: Dr Clair Gough, Dr Sarah Mander

CCS has been identified as a key element of the UK’s options for reducing its CO2 emissions. However, progress in bringing the approach to commercial deployment has not matched its potential. This work package will work with key stakeholders (e.g. government, industry, NGOs, lay publics etc.) to better understand the key issues and identify priorities in establishing CCS within the UK energy system, and to help build the necessary foundations to establish a social license to operate CCS in the UK.
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UKCCSRC Core Research Programme – Overview

This diagram shows how the individual work packages that make up the UKCCSRC core research programme are interlinked across the spectrum of CCS

Click on the diagram to view larger image.