Cutting the cost of carbon capture

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Engineers in the region have been awarded £1.3m to improve the efficiency of systems to capture carbon dioxide before it escapes into the atmosphere.

Researchers from the University of Hull, working with three other institutions, including the University of Leeds, will be gauging conventional systems which collects the gas using chemicals packed into the tower of a power plant, against an innovation they believe can dramatically cut costs.

It is widely believed that carbon dioxide is the main driver of climate change and unless emissions are tackled, temperatures could rise by more than four degrees centigrade, with disastrous consequences.

Dr Meihong Wang, from the School of Engineering at Hull University, said: “It’s possible to use chemicals to absorb CO2 from emissions before they’re released into the atmosphere in the flue gas.

“This is called post-combustion carbon capture, and the process usually happens in a tower that is filled with special packing.

“However, the cost of building and running these packed columns is very high, mainly because of their large size.”

Previous research by Dr Wang and colleagues showed removing CO2 from flue gas using conventional packed columns is highly inefficient.

The new project aims to design and operate a new ‘rotating packed bed’ system that spins at hundreds of times per minute, speeding up the rate at which carbon dioxide is absorbed.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council grant runs for three-and-half years and will support five post-doctoral researchers across the four institutions.