Flexible Funding 2023: Professor Dawid Hanak, Teesside University

Techno-economic and carbon footprint assessment of advanced waste-to-energy with carbon capture and storage for East Coast Cluster


Key facts about this Flexible Funding research project

Institution: Teesside University
Department: School of Computing, Engineering & Digital Technology
Start date: 1 October 2023
Principal investigator: Professor Dawid Hanak
Co-Investigators: Professor Kumar Patchigolla
Amount awarded by UKCCSRC: £29,496

Why is this research needed?

The East Coast Cluster, identified as one of the Track-1 clusters, aims to deliver CCUS infrastructure capable of removing nearly 50% of the UK’s industrial emissions. To achieve this ambitious target, the cluster’s decarbonisation will need negative emission power and fuels that can be delivered, for example, via carbon capture and storage (CCS) retrofits to waste-to-energy (WtE) plants. It is crucial to note that on the national scale, WtE sector is projected to contribute up to 20 MtCO2e per annum in the UK by mid-2020, surpassing the emissions from industrial processes. Therefore, the need to develop low-carbon alternatives for WtE is imperative.

This project aims to perform a comprehensive techno-economic and carbon footprint assessment of an advanced WtE plant based on calcium looping combustion (CaLC). Our previous work has demonstrated that CaLC technology offers cost-effective CO2 capture compared to conventional amine scrubbing methods. By leveraging CaLC, we hypothesize that it is possible to improve the competitiveness of WtE in the energy and waste management sectors, while enabling affordable negative emission heat and power supply to industrial clusters.

The research plan consists of three work packages:

  1. Process modelling and validation, where we will develop and validate models for different WtE designs, including a reference WtE plant, a post-combustion CaL retrofit, and an advanced WtE based on CaLC.
  2. Feasibility assessment, which will involve comparing the techno-economic and environmental performance of the different design scenarios. We will evaluate the net power output, net thermal efficiency, and economic viability using the net present value approach and considering current market data.
  3. Engagement, impact and further development, which will include hosting an industrial workshop, preparing a technical report, and disseminating research findings through academic and industrial publications. This will enable us to build strong relationships with stakeholders in the East Coast Cluster, and beyond, and develop a demonstration and commercialization strategy for CaLC.

What is this research investigating?

The proposed research aims to develop and thoroughly examine the feasibility of an advanced waste-to-energy (WtE) plant based on calcium looping combustion. It is hypothesised that such a WtE plant would enable affordable negative emission heat and power supply to industrial clusters. The secondary aim of this research is to build relationships with the key stakeholders in carbon capture, utilisation and storage, and WtE sectors in the East Coast Cluster to develop a strong industrially-backed consortium for the demonstration and commercialisation of the calcium looping combustion technology.

The measurable objectives for this project are to:

  1. Develop and validate a reference WtE plant so that the Cleveland WtE plant design currently used at the Suez Tees Valley WtE is accurately represented. It means that the work performed in this project will provide valuable insights to the industrial partners in the East Coast Cluster.
  2. Modify the existing calcium looping model so that the post-combustion retrofit scenario of the reference WtE plant is represented. It means that the existing model can process the flue gas from the reference WtE plant.
  3. Modify the existing calcium looping combustion model so that the same waste processing capacity as the reference WtE plant is represented. It means that the advanced WtE plant and the reference WtE plant will be compared using the same design basis.
  4. Assess the techno-economic feasibility and carbon footprint of the considered WtE design scenarios so that the potential benefits of using an advanced WtE plant are identified. It means that technical, economic and environmental datasets will be created and can be used to inform industry in the East Coast Cluster and beyond.
  5. Engage with industrial organisations in the East Coast Cluster so that future research and development activities required to commercialise calcium looping combustion are developed in line with industrial practice. It means that the established industrial and academic consortium.

What does the research hope to achieve?

The anticipated outcomes of this research include a comprehensive techno-economic and carbon footprint assessment of the advanced WtE plant based on CaLC, an industrial roadmap for CaLC development, and a technical report highlighting the potential of WtE to provide negative emissions.

Additionally, we aim to foster collaborations with the CCUS and WtE industries in the East Coast Cluster. By advancing the understanding and viability of advanced WtE with CCUS, this research contributes to the decarbonisation of industrial clusters and supports the UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy in alignment with the Net Zero Strategy.

Research outputs

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