Published: November 12, 2015


Recent Funding of Carbon Capture Technologies Reflects Commitment to Drive Down Costs

The Global CCS Institute has published a major report on the latest developments in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). The Global Status of CCS: 2015 highlights new operational projects, policy and international climate discussions, new technology developments and the emergence of coordinated industrial hubs and clusters. With full-scale deployment of CCS projects and further development at pilot and research stages the cost of CCS will continue to come down. In this Insight the Institute’s Principal Manager for Carbon Capture, Ron Munson discusses some of the current projects which will make up the second wave of lower-cost technologies.

Pilot-scale testing of 2nd generation technologies using actual process gases is a critical step in advancing more cost-effective carbon capture technologies. The US Department of Energy/National Energy Technology Laboratory (DOE/NETL) recently announced the selection of multiple technologies for pilot-scale testing. These technologies are candidates for the next significant wave of lower-cost demonstrations in the 2020 – 2025 time frame that may eventually lead to widespread deployment.

The importance of pilot-scale testing

As technology development advances from the laboratory to commercial development, there is a period during which a technology has been proven in the laboratory, but has yet to move from a research effort to commercialisation.

This period is referred to as the ‘valley of death’ amongst scientific and engineering communities concerned with the transfer of technology from discovery to commercialisation.

Two key hurdles that need to be overcome in this period are technical issues and scale-up for commercialisation.

Bridging these hurdles has been a major focus of carbon capture technology development programs for several years. Programs worldwide have supported the development of a range of technologies at the laboratory/bench scale. Efforts at this scale typically test performance of the technology under development on gas streams generated in the laboratory using bottled gases.

The most promising technologies – those that most successfully bridge the ‘technology hurdle’ – are selected for small pilot scale testing using a slipstream from an operating facility, typically at the 0.5 to 5 megawatts of electrical output (MWe) (~10-100 tonnes per day) scale for post-combustion capture applications.

Success at the small pilot scale can lead to testing at the large pilot scale. For post-combustion capture technologies, this is typically considered to be 10–25 MWe (~200-500 tonnes per day). An inability to move from large pilot-scale testing to full-scale demonstration means that the ‘scale-up for commercialisation’ hurdle has not been overcome.