Flexible Funding 2022: Dr Peter Clough, Cranfield University

Developing the understanding and prototyping of amine electrostatic precipitation

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Key facts about this Flexible Funding research project

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Institution: Cranfield University
Department: School of Water, Energy and Environment
Start date: 1 November 2022
Principal investigator: Dr Peter Clough
Amount awarded by UKCCSRC: £49,877

Why is this research needed?

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is essential for the decarbonisation of multiple industrial sectors and the future expansion of emerging industries such as clean hydrogen production. Without CCS, net zero emissions targets would be more expensive to achieve. Among available CO2 capture technologies, post-combustion capture via chemical absorption is the technologically most mature. In particular, amine scrubbing currently dominates the market, with two large-scale plants in North America and one under construction in Norway. One significant challenge of these amine scrubbing plants is ‘amine slip’, where small amounts of amines and their degradation products form aerosols in the absorber and are unintentionally released into the atmosphere. Amine degradation products like nitrosamines are carcinogens, therefore stringent emission limits must be adhered to.

For individual plants, the Environment Agency has implemented emission limits of 100 ug/m3 for amines and 0.2 ng/m3 for their degradation products. Using existing technology, individual amine scrubbing plants will find it challenging to meet these limits, especially during transient operations. And when several of these units are deployed within an industrial cluster, the localised cumulative fugitive amine concentrations are likely to exceed acceptable levels and pose significant public health risks. This will lead to the tightening of individual plant emission limits and the requirement for new technologies to capture these fugitive amine emissions; preferably by methods that do not lead to additional pressure drop or that consume additional water or chemicals, which need to be replenished and/or disposed of. To this end, this project is developing a new technology (akin to electrostatic precipitators) to tackle fugitive amine release and prevent their release into the atmosphere.

What is this research investigating?

This amine electrostatic precipitation technology has been mathematically proven via modelling and first principles mathematics. However, in order to scale this technology, and for it to enter the market, a prototype system first needs to be constructed. This is the aim of this project.

The objectives of this project are to utilise this prototype and explore the phenomena that are currently least understood. The objectives of this research are:

  • To validate the amine electrostatic precipitation modelling using experimental data gathered in a prototypical system.
  • To evaluate methods of coalescing aerosol particles and amine vapours to increase the amine slip mitigation rate.

What does the research hope to achieve?

Within this project, a prototype amine aerosol electrostatic precipitator will be built and used to experimentally demonstrate the technology and validate the modelling. The prototype will be built based on the design produced and modelling performed within the previously funded UKCCSRC project in collaboration with Petrofac. In addition, a set of work will be conducted to evaluate methods of coalescing smaller aerosol particles and amine vapours to increase the amine slip mitigation rate, as it is recognised that aerosol amines are only part of the problem and consideration of the most challenging amine slips needs to be undertaken.

This project builds upon the prior work conducted by the PI, and funded by UKCCSRC, via the construction of a prototype system. The physical prototype will then become an asset for the future and enable further research into the technology.

Research outputs

This research is ongoing. Outputs will be shared below as they become available.

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Blog post - January 2024