Large EU project to develop carbon capture technologies

In a new Horizon 2020 project, DTU will lead demonstration projects involving new electricity-based technologies for carbon capture, use and storage.

Partners from Denmark, the Netherlands, the UK, Romania, Greece, China and Canada have joined forces to enable electrochemical reduction of carbon emissions worldwide.

DTU will coordinate the construction of mobile demonstration facilities to be tested at three different locations in the EU: the cement factory Aalborg Portland, the Greek mining company Grecian Magnesite and the Romanian refinery OMV Petron. A common feature of all three companies is that their production inevitably results in high levels of carbon emissions. The demonstration facilities are expected to collect around 100 kilos of CO2 per hour, which will then be converted into usable chemicals.

So far, carbon capture, use and storage only takes place in a few places around the world, often using fossil fuels to run the boilers that regenerate the carbon-absorbing material. The new consortium, called ConsenCUS, wants to enable carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) using renewable energy sources to make it more sustainable and even climate neutral.

“We need to put a plug in the chimneys. The CO2 must be captured, and there’s no getting around it: we need power, and it must come from renewable energy sources. Chemistry in the 21st century will be based on electricity, so of course carbon use and storage should be too,” says Philip Loldrup Fosbøl, Associate Professor at  AT-CERE at DTU Chemical Engineering.

“At Aalborg Portland, we’re very excited to be part of this strong international consortium, where we’ll work closely with DTU to test brand-new and efficient carbon capture technology at our cement factory. This can open up for new opportunities to create much better financial conditions for carbon capture,” says Michael Lundgaard Thomsen, CEO of Aalborg Portland, and continues:

“The project will also explore possible synergies in cluster and value chain collaborations, which we consider essential if we’re to succeed with CCUS on a large scale in North Jutland, because it will require the involvement of several players.”

How it works

In practice, the carbon will be captured by using an alkaline liquid to bind it. At low temperatures, the carbon is released electrochemically and collected. The liquid can be reused to capture more carbon.

The collected carbon will be used to produce formic acid, which has a number of applications in the chemical industry – for example as a hydrogen source in the transport sector and as a building block in the plastics industry. The use of formic acid is expected to increase in the future.

“At the Danish Gas Technology Centre, we already work with carbon and hydrogen. So it’s very gratifying to have the opportunity to support such a large project with our knowledge in the field. In this way, we can contribute to a greener and more flexible energy system, where safety remains a high priority,” says CEO Thea Larsen.

At the same time, the researchers will examine the opportunities and challenges that the carbon technologies will bring to the local economy, geology and society. The aim is for regional companies to work with governments and citizens to make smart investments in shared infrastructure, such as pipelines or temporary storage sites.

“We see the use of electricity in carbon technologies as a big part of the future. A future where we hope that Denmark will play a big role, both in terms of workplaces and research,” says postdoc Sebastian Nis Bay Villadsen from AT-CERE at DTU Chemical Engineering.