A four-year carbon sequestration project backed by 30 European universities and energy companies will test the viability of CO2 capture.
A four-year carbon sequestration project backed by 30 European universities and energy companies will test the viability of CO2 capture as a means of curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
The Castor project (CO2 from Capture to Storage), launched on 15 March, is located at a power station, near Esbjerg, Denmark.
Castor, claimed to be the world’s first installation to capture CO2 from flue gases of a coal-fired station, has a budget of €15.8 million (?11 million), half of which will come from the European Union. Imperial College London, UK, is among the participating institutions.
According to the station’s operator, the Danish energy company Elsam, flue gases are diverted to an absorber where a solvent captures up to 90 per cent of the CO2. Other components of the flue gases with less affinity with the solvent - notably nitrogen - are discharged.
The CO2-rich solvent is fed into a regenerator and heated to 120 degrees Celsius, breaking the bonds between the CO2 and the solvent. The CO2 is stored, and the solvent, restored to its initial, CO2-poor form, is reinjected into the absorber.
Members of the amine family are favoured as solvents because they are effective at atmospheric pressure and resistant to corrosion. The reference solvent will be monoethanolamine (MEA).
Castor’s backers claim that carbon capture at large combustion plants could reduce Europe’s CO2 emissions by 10 per cent.
Project managers estimate that the system could capture CO2 at a rate of one tonne per hour: a scale at which credible extrapolations could be made regarding the theoretical efficiency of even bigger installations.
As for putting the captured CO2 to good use, Shell and the Norwegian oil producer Statoil have announced their own project to capture CO2 at a new gas-fired power station in central Norway. The gas will be injected into oil-bearing strata beneath the North Sea, facilitating extraction and extending the life of oilfields by several years.