link to School of Engineering website Dual piston rapid PSA instrumentation link to SCCS website      link to University of Edinburgh website

Current Research Projects

EPSRC-funded projects:
* Development and Evaluation of Sustainable Technologies for Flexible Operation of Conventional Power Plants
* Feasibility of a wetting layer absorption carbon capture process based on chemical solvents
Adsorption Materials and Processes for Carbon Capture from Gas-Fired Power Plants (AMPGas)
* Carbon Capture and Storage Interactive (CCSI)
* Carbon Capture in the Refining Process (First Grant Scheme)
* Carbon Nanotubes for Carbon Capture
* EPSRC Case Award + Howden Group: Transition Engineering and Capture Ready Options for new-build Natural gas-fired stations (TECRON)
* Fundamentals of Optimised Capture Using Solids (FOCUS)
* Gas - Future Advanced Capture Technology Options (Gas-FACTS)
* In-depth Studies of OxyCoal Combustion Processes through Numerical Modelling and 3D Flame Imaging
* Innovative Gas Separations for Carbon Capture (IGSCC)
* Materials for Next Generation CO2 Transport Systems (MATTRAN)
* Oxyfuel Combustion - Academic Programme for the UK
Science & Innovation Award: Carbon Capture from Power Plant and Atmosphere (S & IA)
* UK Carbon Capture and Storage Community Network
* The United Kingdom Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre (UKCCSRC)

EU-funded project:

Project funded by the Turkish Government, Ministry of Education:
* Process Integration of a Calcium-looping Process with a Cement Plant for Carbon Capture

Project funded by the Nigerian Government:
* Effect of Fluid Properties on the Transport of Reservoir Fluids and CO in Porous Media for Enhanced Oil Recovery and CO2 Sequestration

Projects with China funded by the Foreign Commonwealth Office:
* Guangdong CCS-Ready and Chinese Advanced Power Plants Carbon Capture Option (CAPPCCO)
* Reinterpretation of Bubbling Fluidisation

Industry + University-funded projects:
* Costain + ETI funded project: Next generation carbon capture technology (NGCCT)
* Doosan Power Systems: Transient Response of Amine Capture Technologies Integrated with Operating Needs (TRACTION)
* Doosan Power Systems: Control, Optimisation, and Measurement of CO2 Absorber Transients (COMCAT)
* ScottishPower: Optimisation and Integration of Membrane Processes in Coal Fired Power Plants with CCS (SP membrane)
* SSE: Effects of Utilisation in Real-time on Electricity Capacity Assessments (EURECA)
* Sulzer Chem Tech: Modelling TRANSient operation of flexible PAckings for Carbon Capture (TRANSPACC)

Project funded by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland:
* Multiphase Flow in Porous Media for CO2 Storage and Enhanced Oil Recovery

KETEP-funded project (Korean Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning):
* IGCC Integrated with an H2 Pressure Swing Adsorption Process

Royal Society and Wolfson Foundation:
* The PoSTCap Lab for Direct Reduction in Carbon Emissions from Fossil Power Plant

Scottish Power Academic Alliance:
* Technical Aspects of Gas Turbine Emissions with Capture (TAGTEC)

US-Department of Energy-funded project:
* Carbon Dioxide Removal from Flue Gas Using Microporous Metal-Organic Frameworks

  • Development and Evaluation of Sustainable Technologies for Flexible Operation of Conventional Power Plants

For more information:

This EPSRC-funded conventional power consortium (EP/K02115X/1) brings together five leading Universities in the UK and a number of industrial partners to make conventional power plants more flexible. It is led by Dr Simon Hogg at the University of Durham, working in collaboration with the Universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Leeds and Oxford. The research programme covers a wide range of activities from detailed analysis of power station parts to determine how they will respond to large changes in load all the way up to modelling of the UK electrical network on a national level which informs us as to the load changes which conventional power plants will need to supply. The research work is divided up into a number of "workpackages" for which each University is responsible together they contribute to four major themes in the proposal: Maintaining Plant Efficiency, Improving Plant Flexibility, Increasing Fuel Flexibility and Delivering Sustainability. Working closely with our colleagues at the University of Leeds, we will explore options for increasing the use of biomass fuels by improving combustion. We will also contribute to the development of a Virtual Power Plant Simulation Tool, which will act as a bridge between the different project partners as inputs from the models produced at individual universities are combined.

  • Costain + ETI funded project: Next generation carbon capture technology (NGCCT)

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) is investing £23.5m in the NGCCT project to develop next generation carbon capture technology. The ETI is working with Costain to deliver the project which will see a carbon capture pilot plant capable of capturing up to 95% of carbon dioxide emissions designed, built, operated and tested by the middle of 2015. The project will be aimed at pre-combustion carbon capture applications, involving CO2 removal by physical separation and will be split into two parts. The first lasting 16 months and costing £3.5m will provide the front end engineering design for the demonstration unit. Costain is working with the University of Edinburgh and Imperial College, London on the first stage to help understand and optimise performance of the technology. The ETI expects to invest £20m in the second stage as the pilot plant is built, demonstrated and the results analysed. A potential site has been identified for the pilot plant and will be reviewed and ranked against other options and then confirmed during the first stage of the project. The technology developed in this project will help reduce costs and increase performance to allow a full-scale, commercially viable facility to be ready for power export by 2020.

  • EP/J019704/1 - Feasibility of a wetting layer absorption carbon capture process based on chemical solvents

The 'wetting layer absorption' (WLA) process consists in using a porous material to support liquid-like regions of solvent to absorb the gas of interest. The project will investigate the use of the WLA process for carbon capture applications using physical and chemical solvents. The process should have a high capacity, high selectivity, and high rates of mass transfer, as well as a significant reduction of the use of toxic and corrosive solvents. Microwave regeneration is also investigated for the regeneration of the sorbent which should greatly reduce the regeneration costs for the sorbent.

For more information:

  • Carbon Capture in the Refining Process (First Grant Scheme)

The research aim of this project is to develop a Vacuum Swing Adsorption(VSA) process to capture CO2 from a SMR-H2 plant in the refining process. For post-combustion capture, the amine process is, to date, closest to commercialisation and ready to be deployed, but a cyclic adsorption process can be more energy-efficient than the amine process in this particular case due to the higher CO2 fraction in the feed. The research will focus on finding an optimal configuration for a CO2 VSA process using a commercially available adsorbent. The target is to achieve 90+% CO2 recovery with 95+% purity from the H2 PSA off-gas. A lab-scale multi-column VSA rig will be constructed in the adsorption labs at Edinburgh to demonstrate that the target is achievable with a well-designed cyclic adsorption process. The design and optimisation of the VSA process will be facilitated by a proper simulation work integrated with an optimiser. An overall process design of an example H2 plant integrated with the VSA process will be implemented for the purpose of optimising its steam network.

  • Adsorption Materials and Processes for Carbon Capture from Gas-Fired Power Plants (AMPGas)

In line with the UK Climate Change Committee (CCC) recommendations, the focus of this proposal is on capture technology for retrofit to existing CCGT plants. Next generation enhanced capture technology will be developed; in particular plant size will be reduced through novel advanced adsorbents and the optimisation of fast cycle thermal regeneration using rotary wheel adsorbers. The key challenge in post combustion capture from gas fired power plants is the low CO2 concentration in the flue gas, approximately 4% by volume. This means that conventional amine processes will have a large energy penalty and the presence of oxygen in high concentration will lead to high amine deactivation rates. Novel adsorbents and adsorption processes have the potential to improve the efficiency of the separation process. Given the very low CO2 partial pressure in the flue gas, the selection of novel adsorbents is very different from the equivalent approach to coal-fired power plants. The adsorbents will have to have a very high selectivity to achieve good capture capacity with dilute mixtures. As a result these materials will have to be based either on very strong physisorption or chemisorption and the regeneration will have to be by thermal cycling. This poses the engineering challenge of developing a process that will achieve rapid thermal swings of the order of a few minutes, which is over an order of magnitude faster than traditional Thermal Swing Adsorption (TSA) fixed bed processes. The project is an ambitious programme of work that will address both materials and process development for carbon capture from gas fired power plants.

  • Gas - Future Advanced Capture Technology Options (Gas-FACTS)

The Gas-FACTS programme will provide important underpinning research for UK CCS development and deployment on natural gas power plants, particularly for gas turbine modifications and advanced post combustion capture technologies that are the principal candidates for deployment in a possible tens-of-£billions expansion of the CCS sector between 2020 and 2030, and then operation until 2050 or beyond, in order to meet UK CO2 emission targets. The results of this project will provide an essential basis for further work to extract the maximum research benefits from the UK CCS demonstration programme and help to develop more advanced gas CCS technologies for a second tranche of CCS deployment. This project will look at quantifying the scope of gas turbine modifications to improve the technical, environmental and economic performance of integrated CO2 capture on CCGT plants. Small gas turbines will be modified to run with steam or recycled flue gas replacing some of the normal air feed to increase back-end CO2 concentrations (which will help make the CO2 easier to capture). To quantify through modelling and experimental testing the scope for improving post-combustion capure system performance on CCGT plants through a combination of advanced liquid solvents, including novel amine mixtures, and improved transient performance. Solvents that are used to take up CO2 and then release it in a pure form that can be stored underground will be modified so that the amount of energy required to do this is reduced. The equipment the solvents are used in will also be designed to turn on and off quickly to allow CCS power plants to compensate for fluctuations in output from wind turbines.

  • IGCC Integrated with an H2 Pressure Swing Adsorption Process

The Korean Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning (KETEP) under the direction of the Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE) announced in December 2011 that a research proposal led by Yonsei University (Korea) has been selected to be a new project under the International Cooperation Programme on Energies and Resources. The aim of the project is to design an advanced IGCC (Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle) process to produce power and ultrapure hydrogen simultaneously. The carbon capture group at the University of Edinburgh (UK) will participate in this international joint project as the sole foreign partner, selected for its renowned carbon capture research. A PhD project over the next three years will be supported by the Korean Government (£190k) to develop the rigorous design of the IGCC process integrated with an H2 Pressure Swing Adsorption process operating at 35 bar.

  • Materials for Next Generation CO2 Transport Systems (MATTRAN)

This project will provide the tools and information necessary for pipeline engineers to select appropriate materials and operating conditions to control corrosion, stress corrosion cracking and fracture propagation in pipelines and associated equipment carrying supercritical CO2 from the capture processes likely to be realised in the near and long term future. However, in order to be able to achieve this overall aim, fundamental scientific research is required to provide the data and predictive models necessary to produce accurate and validated predictions.

The first tasks in the project are to determine the expected ranges of compositional variation in the CO2 streams. The experimental data will be used to address another gap in the existing knowledge on supercritical CO2 process streams, the prediction of the phase behaviour and thermodynamic properties using existing equations of state. The experimental data will be compared with existing equations of states and new models developed and provided to the hydraulic and fracture propagation models that will be used in the interconnected Work Packages. The remaining Work Packages involve the specification of the pipeline and associated equipment materials to determine the conditions under which corrosion, stress corrosion cracking and fracture propagation will occur. Once the constituents in the CO2 stream have been selected, experiments investigating corrosion, stress cracking and fracture propagation will be conducted.

  • Doosan Power Systems: Control, Optimisation, and Measurement of CO2 Absorber Transients (COMCAT)

CO2 post-combustion capture systems on power plants are unlikely to operate at true steady state for any length of time. Even if the power plant output is nominally stable, factors such as changes in coal properties, firing patterns, excess air levels and ambient temperatures will all cause changes in operating conditions. Additionally, power plants and their associated CO2 capture systems are likely to be changing output and shutting down for periods in response to electricity market conditions. There has been very little work to identify appropriate control strategies for plants operating in these dynamic conditions, but a promising option is to exploit the freedom offered by post-combustion capture to drive the capture plant through a trajectory of changing operating states while keeping within environmental regulations.

This project will identify appropriate sites for sensors and develop methods for a rapid and accurate interpretation of the results that can be implemented through conventional commercial instrumentation and control systems.

  • ScottishPower: Optimisation and Integration of Membrane Processes in Coal Fired Power Plants with CCS (SP membrane)

Membrane separation processes have been reported to be a next-generation carbon capture option. This technology has successfully been applied to various industrial processes, such as methane purification and air separation. Due to its peculiarities, such as modularity and absence of regenerating apparatus, membrane separation processes represent an attractive alternative to amine absorption processes. In particular, the possibility to reduce the energy consumption and small footprint are key features for integration with a power plant. The aim of this project is to study the application of membrane separation processes to carbon capture, particularly post-combustion capture from the flue gas of a coal-fired power plant. The study will compare membrane processes with other post-combustion capture technologies, i.e. absorption. It is expected that optimised membrane configurations will be able to achieve similar separation efficiencies and recoveries with a lower energy consumption.

  • SSE: Effects of Utilisation in Real-time on Electricity Capacity Assessments (EURECA)

A leading option for the cost-effective decarbonisation of the UK economy is large-scale deployment of low-carbon technologies in the electricity sector. A transition from conventional thermal generation to low-carbon sources would significantly change the electricity generation portfolio. It is, therefore, essential to have a comprehensive understanding of the operating patterns of future thermal generation capacity in order to inform the scientific community and other key energy stakeholders about the necessary operational requirements of future power plants. In the UK (and elsewhere), it is likely that conventional thermal generation will be required for the provision of flexibility to ensure there is sufficient generation capacity available to act as infill generation for significant deployment of inflexible power generation sources. This also suggests a substantial likely need for flexible thermal generation equipped with carbon capture and storage (CCS) to decarbonise the electricity sector, manage wind output variability and provide real-time demand/supply balancing. This project will aim to simulate the likely future UK wind output for a range of scenarios and to investigate the implications on the thermal plant portfolio.

  • Sulzer Chem Tech: Modelling TRANSient operation of flexible PAckings for Carbon Capture (TRANSPACC)

Power plants constitute one of the largest CO2 emitting sectors. With increased emphasis on abatement of emissions to meet the 2030 deadline set by the UK Committee on Climate Change, the power-plant sector is relying on CCS retrofits using post-combustion capture to clean up flue gases. However, despite the highly transient nature of power plant operation characterised by frequent shut-downs and start-ups (up to twice a day), the retrofits are currently designed for a constant base-load operation and hence cannot maintain even liquid distribution during unsteady loading. This project, TRANSPACC, will move beyond the current concepts for making CO2 absorption column internals at base-load operation and towards new column internals capable of meeting the requirements for fast, flexible and highly dynamic operation of fossil-fuel power plants fitted with CO2 capture. This project will involve modelling and simulating the transient absorption phenomena in towers with structured packings using 3D direct numerical simulations.

  • Process Integration of a Calcium-looping Process with a Cement Plant for Carbon Capture

The reversible adsorption of CO2 by CaO at high temperature is a promising method for capturing and removing CO2 from a hot gas stream. Various techniques have been proposed for implementing the carbonate looping method into a power plant. As the by-product of the carbonate looping process can be blended with clinkers, several methods are available and have been proposed such as the integration of cement plants and power plants. The spent CaO from the purge stream of a carbonate looping process utilized in a power plant is used in place of the limestone which is the main inlet component of a cement process. Therefore, both industries undergo reducing emissions. However, there is no operational link between these industries yet, and only part of CO2 can be reduced since the other source of CO2 by fuel combustion in the cement plant still exists. This project analyses a typical cement manufacturing process and investigates various configurations in which carbonate looping can be used to capture CO2 from all sources, as well as provide some/all of the CaO required. A variety of process models have been investigated in detail with respect to their technical feasibilities and energy consumption by developing full flowsheets in Unisim. The process simulation also includes integrated steam cycles and air separation units so that the overall energy consumption of the retrofit process can be evaluated. Both retrofit and new build cement plant designs are being looked at.

The brochure below highlights the "Next Generation Carbon Capture" experimental and modelling activities being carried out at the University of Edinburgh and which are being applied to the IGSCC project.

The photos show some of the IGSCC consortium members engaging in groupwork.

Next generation carbon capture brochure IGSCC consortium members carry out groupwork      IGSCC consortium members carry out groupwork

The actual model of the CCS Interactive

A short film on the CCSI Interactive can be viewed here.

“FOCUS” is a China-UK collaborative research project, jointly funded by the EPSRC and the National Science Foundation of China. The University of Edinburgh and North China Electric Power University, Beijing will share their expertise in adsorption, power plant engineering, and circulating fluidised beds to investigate novel rapid temperature swing adsorption processes for carbon capture. The project runs from Jan 2011 to Dec 2013.

University of Edinburgh, North China Electric Power University, and Research Council members attending the UK-China conference in Beijing, March 2011             Dr Xianfeng Fan gives a talk on circulating fluidised beds

  • EP/F008384/1 Optimising Nanoporous Adsorbents for Hydrogen Purification

This project runs from January 2008 until December 2012. £275k was awarded to the Institute of Materials and Processes. This interdisciplinary project is run in collaboration with chemists from the University of St Andrews and is aimed at the design of porous materials that can recover and purify hydrogen for industrial gas streams, which will be required in a low carbon economy.

Recent Projects

  • US Dept. of Energy: Carbon Dioxide Removal from Flue Gas Using Microporous Metal Organic Frameworks

This project ran from April 2007 to March 2010. This DOE grant is in collaboration with UOP, a Honeywell company, and is based on the use of the Zero Length Column (ZLC) technique to provide rapid screening of new nanoporous materials that show great potential for pressure or vacuum swing adsorption of CO2 from flue gases.

EU FP6 List of Projects

  • Fundamental studies of transport in inorganic nanostructures (FUSION): Nov 2005 to Oct 2008

This collaborative project, with research groups in Ireland, UK, Finland, Greece, Netherlands and Poland, uses a problem-based approach to the development of ultra-high performance, high temperature, gas separation materials based on newly emerging porous, inorganic materials, associated fabrication processes and fundamental molecular-level phenomena.

  • EU FP6: Advanced separation and storage of carbon dioxide: design, synthesis and applications of novel nanoporous sorbents (DESANNS): Jan 2006 to Dec 2008

A collaborative project with research groups in France, UK Czech Republic, Slovakia and Spain. The aim was to develop ideal pore structures and chemical compositions, including synthesis routes, required for adsorbents to capture carbon dioxide from a mixed gas streams (with hydrogen, methane and nitrogen for example) and allow for an economic desorption process.

  • EU FP6: Intelligent design of nanosorbents (INDENS): Jan 2005 to Dec 2008

This is an EU postgraduate training network in collaboration with research groups in France, UK, Czech Republic, Germany and Greece.