Norway boosts carbon-capture research

Norway is launching a £30m scientific research and development programme with the aim of generating more cost effective technology for CO2 capture. The project is one of the biggest of its kind to date.

SINTEF, the independent research organisation, The Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Aker Clean Carbon, the industrial technology company, have signed an agreement for an eight-year science and development programme called SOLVit.

Gassnova SF – the Norwegian government’s vehicle for CO2-management (capture, transport, injection and storage) – has approved financial support of £3.4m for the first phase of the project, which runs till the end of 2010.

The agreement covers chemical processes that can capture CO2 from the process industry and emissions from coal- and gas-fired power stations. Within these sectors, it is estimated that the 4,000 largest facilities account for about 40 per cent of man-made CO2 emissions globally. The SOLVit programme aims to generate better and more cost-effective processes and chemicals to manage CO2 emissions from these facilities.

International energy companies have been invited to take part in the programme.

Ms Unni Steinsmo, chief executive of SINTEF, said the programme includes building a large laboratory facility that will strengthen Norway's standing in the international arena, making it easier to compete for financial support for scientific research from institutions such as the European Union.

“Results from the development research in the new laboratory in Trondheim will be tried out in test centres and hopefully also in full-scale facilities already in the first phase of the programme. This makes SOLVit even more exciting,” said Ms Steinsmo.

Jan Roger Bjerkestrand, chief executive of Aker Clean Carbon, said the company would benefit from cooperation on scientific research to develop better and more energy effective chemicals for the capture and cleansing processes.

Aker Clean Carbon and SINTEF have together developed many chemical solutions based on amines, a chemical that has the ability to cleanse CO2. One of these solutions is already ready to use. Phase one of SOLVit will be used to test the other amine solutions under development.

“We have a clear goal to bring the cost of CO2-capture and cleansing down significantly. In phase two and three of SOLVit, the parties will try to introduce new chemical solutions and elements to the process in order to generate cost cuts. The aim is to come up with a process facility for CO2-capture that can operate on half the energy consumption of today’s processes,” said Bjerkestrand.

The new laboratory at Tiller in Trondheim will be a unique test centre for pilot projects, including a 30 metre tall tower and processing column that reached 25 metres high – identical to the height needed in full-scale industrial facilities. The lab will also be available for SINTEF’s domestic and international customers and partners.

The programme will also involve the testing of chemicals and processes in a mobile capture facility which is currently being built at Aker Verdal. This facility is large enough to process parts of emissions from power stations and industrial sites in periods of several months at a time.

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