A consortium, which consists of EDF’s Sizewell C, University of Nottingham, Strata Technology, Atkins, and Doosan Babcock, said they have completed a successful R&D project and are preparing to construct a demonstration plant. The consortium aims to use heat from the proposed British Sizewell C nuclear power plant to capture CO2 from the atmosphere on a large scale.
The consortium reported on progress made in phase 1 of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Greenhouse Gas Removal innovation competition in the UK.
A direct air capture (DAC) tech powered by heat can be developed, scaled, and integrated with Sizewell C, thus bringing more efficiency and less dependence on electricity as compared to current technology and “could utilize up to 400 megawatt therma of heat from the power plant to capture 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year, which is enough to almost offset the UK’s entire emissions from railway transport”.
The consortium plans to utilize steam from Sizewell C’s turbine installation and remove CO2 from the atmosphere where the concentration is about 400ppm. This will happen with the help of sorbents using an adsorption system, where carbon sticks to the solid surface of the chemical. The next step in the process is treating the sorbents to extract the CO2 and compress it for storage and reuse.
The consortium bids for BEIS phase 2 funding and said “the experiments performed using a lab-based pilot plant have enabled the process design for a 100 tonnes of carbon annually demonstration plant to be constructed.
They proposed to complete a demonstration plant for $3.7 million (GBP3.0 million) on land that is about 12 meters by 20 meters near the Sizewell C plant. “The key advantage of siting the demonstration plant in or around the wider Sizewell C estate is that the environmental conditions that the adsorber column is exposed to will be representative of the potential commercial-scale plant for integration with Sizewell C, subject to any necessary permissions and other consents being secured at the appropriate time,” they said in their Phase 1 final report.
“Once significant data has been generated from the demonstration plant, giving further confidence in the technology’s commercial potential,” the consortium will scale up to capturing 50,000 tonnes of CO2/year by 2030 and continue to explore opportunities to use heat from other UK plants.
Then, it will further scale up the plant “capable of capturing CO2 on a Megatonne scale” but. The consortium said that “an alternative nuclear (or other) plant needs to be identified with a heat source that could drive the process, as Sizewell C would not be in place by this time, but of course Sizewell C will be capable of driving carbon capture solutions at a megatonne scale when operational in the 2030s”.
High DAC prices have been a “major barrier to the development of a significant UK market,” the report read. However, the use of “future low-cost, low-carbon heat available from a nuclear power plant” could mean removing megatonnes of CO2 at less than GBP200 per tonne.
Once working, Sizewell C is proposing to extract up to 400 MWt of heat from the nuclear site. And while a “minor modification to the power plant design will be required to implement cogeneration”, Sizewell C “does not expect any significant change to the replication of the design from Hinkley Point C or its safety case at this stage”.
The goal for Sizewell C is to have two EPRs that produce 3.2 GW of electricity. EDF submitted a planning application for Sizewell C in 2020 and hopes to make a final investment decision in either 2022 or 2023.