CO2 Capture and Compression Technology

Roughly one third of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions due to human activity come from fossil fuels used for electricity generation. A variety of other industrial processes such as oil refineries and fertilizer as well as cement plants also emit large amounts of CO2. The opportunity therefore exists for a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from industrial processes and power plants through the capture and storage of CO2.

To sustain their operational competitiveness in a carbon-constrained world, fossil-fueled power plants must increase their efficiency, adopt clean technologies to minimize emissions of air pollutants, and reduce their CO2 emissions through capture and storage processes. Currently, there are three main approaches to capturing CO2 from the combustion of fossil fuels, namely, pre-combustion capture, post-combustion capture, and oxy-fuel combustion.

The optimum CO2 capture and compression process will vary depending on the adopted combustion technology and CO2 capture pathway, as well as the end-user’s requirements and the properties of the flue gas (such as composition, pressure and temperature). As a result, different CO2 capture technologies have been proposed, such as absorption (chemical or physical), adsorption, separation by compression and membrane separation. However, not all of these technologies are mature enough for large-scale CO2 capture and removal applications. Though these processes have the ability to capture CO2 from flue gases with different compositions and variable CO2 concentration levels, there is a need to improve their performance and reduce their cost in order to make these technologies economically viable.

In general, the performance of a given CO2 capture and compression process depends greatly on design considerations such as recovery rate, degree of purification, energy demand, and application requirements (e.g. enhanced oil recovery). The Zero Emission Technologies (ZET) group at CanmetENERGY has developed a CO2 capture and compression unit (CanCO2) suitable for separating CO2 from a process stream generated not only by an oxy-fuel power plant but also from other industrial sources. The CanCO2 is a trailer-mounted modular unit and has onboard independent control facility. It is transportable and suitable for field testing and demonstrations. Once at the desired field location, it requires only an appropriate power source and feed-gas stream (for CO2 capture) to operate. The CanCO2 has a high CO2 product recovery rate and achieves high CO2 product purity of 95% or higher.

The CanCO2 is the first of its kind and constitutes a unique research platform for fossil fuel combustion with CO2 capture. This platform provides insight into CO2 capture from oxy-fuel combustion and other systems. Over time, this will lead to the creation of a database, which will be indispensable to the large-scale implementation of this integrated approach.

For more information about the CanCO2 and CanmetENERGY's innovative research in this area, please contact us.