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EU project to demonstrate 'cheaper, easier' method of CO2 capture


June 13, 2011

The DemoCLOCK pilot project will be installed at Spain's Elcogas Puertollano power plant (Photo: legio09)

The DemoCLOCK pilot project will be installed at Spain's Elcogas Puertollano power plant (Photo: legio09)

If there's one big environmental concern surrounding power plants that burn material such as coal in order to produce power, it's the amount of carbon dioxide that they release into the atmosphere. Various experimental technologies have been developed for removing most or all of the CO2 from smokestack effluents, although no one system appears to have been universally accepted as of yet. One technology that shows some promise, and that could perhaps be used in conjunction with other systems, is called Chemical Looping Combustion (CLC). Norwegian research group SINTEF is now building a special new type of CLC system, for use in the DemoCLOCK pilot project, to be installed at Spain's Elcogas Puertollano power plant.

When fuel is burnt in a regular power plant, the fire is fed by oxygen in the air. The CO2 that results is diluted in nitrogen in the air, which makes it difficult to economically separate, capture and store. In a CLC system, this problem is avoided by never allowing the fuel and the air to come into contact with one another. Instead, they are housed in two separate units, a fuel reactor and an air reactor. In the air reactor, through the heat-producing process of oxidation, oxygen is drawn from the air and transferred to metal oxide granules. Those granules are then transferred to the fuel reactor, where they react with the fuel, creating more heat.

The exit stream from the fuel reactor consists of only CO2 and H2O - no nitrogen. The H2O can easily be condensed out of the mixture, leaving nothing but easily-captured pure carbon dioxide. The depleted metal oxide carrier granules are cycled back to the air reactor for reuse, while the heat created in both reactors can be used to spin turbines, which in turn generates electricity.

The medium-scale 500kW DemoCLOCK will be a little different, in that it will be a packed bed system. It will only have a single reactor, in which the carrier granules will alternately be exposed to the air, in order to get "charged up," and then to the fuel gas, in the absence of air. It should offer the same performance as a traditional CLC system but will be more compact, and simpler, as the carrier won't need to be moved back and forth.

The packed bed system was originally developed by a team at The Netherlands' Eindhoven University of Technology. DemoCLOCK has a budget of EUR 8.2 million (US$11.8 million), and is being funded by the European Union. It includes ten other industry partners, besides SINTEF.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Paul, there are multiple lines of evidence pointing toward global climate change. Looking for a single smoking gun as it were will not happen, as there are many ways human (in)action is contributing to it. Is there a particular reason why it would not be a good idea to reduce man-made carbon (and other greenhouse gas) emissions?

Steve Cook

Besides the whole unproven hype around CO2 one other statement in this article irks me and shows how diseased the collective mindset has become.

\"...although no one system appears to have been universally accepted as of yet.\"

How can this even start to be an argument? Maybe it had some merit in communist Russia where a one size fits all was the norm but why should a solution be universally be accepted? I\'d suggest power generators pick the system that is most cost effective for their situation. Obviously that would mean they pick none since everyone knows there is no problem in the first place.

So I take it that the author considers it as a given, that the government needs to force a solution for a non existing problem upon the power generators.

Paul van Dinther

I am just amazed to still see remaning articles featuring the word C02. It\'s like being transported back five years.

Guys, give it up already please. You are not doing science a favor flogging this. Work on something productive.

Todd Dunning

Steve Cook yes you are correct about there being evidence of global climate change, in fact climate change has been happening for millions of years but there is no hard evidence that can prove that we humans are responsible for any part. A single volcano eruption can spew out more C02 in one event than man can in a whole year. Furthermore C02 is essential to our planets plant life, so what do we do choke all our plants to death. I have one idea, Stop frigging clearing all the forests and poisoning the oceans that support the biggest C02 scavengers. This planet can support all of us and then some if we do it smart, but that ain\'t happening is it. In short C02 is not the problem here, its all those greedy oil corporations and bad pollies that are stopping real innovations and innovators dead (literally)in there tracks. Then again, my opinion means diddley squat these days.

Denis Klanac

I agree with Denis. There are better battles to be faught then attacking the invisible evil foe of CO2, which is actually necessary for life and not really so evil after all. The \'science\' scaremongering behind anthropological climate change theory has been debunked by numerous impartials, and yet those who continue to support it do so because they are funded by inistitutions with an agenda benefitting from the theory.


Paul Van Dinther

Unproven hype around CO2! Just what on earth does it take to convince you? Go spend an hour or so for the sake of your kids, and if you haven\'t got any, for the sake of mine, at skepticalscience.com, it will give you the proof you clearly lack.

Mel Tisdale

Free the farmers to select crops of their choice, will negate any ill affects of climate change, whether it get warmer or cooler. We are paying people not to farm.


"The 'science' scaremongering behind anthropological climate change theory has been debunked by numerous impartials, "

The only people who decide science are scientists. It's not up to a vote from "impartials". There're no "impartials" denying it anyway - they're from Libertarian thinktanks or receiving corporate lobbiest money and aren't scientists. The fact that you would charge mainstream science with being paid to promote their positions when numerous articles detail companies like ExxonMobil funding the deniers shows it's you who's not being objective.

The Truth About Denial http://www.newsweek.com/2007/08/13/the-truth-about-denial.html

Royal Society tells Exxon: stop funding climate change denial http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2006/sep/20/oilandpetrol.business

Oil firms fund climate change 'denial' http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/jan/27/environment.science

There is no worldwide conspiracy of scientists to force you to clean your emissions because of some unholy agenda. If it was "debunked", science would change its position. Science is based on facts and reproducible experiment. Show the evidence, the theory changes. Climate scientists have reached consensus, just as biologists have about evolution. You're no longer allowed to claim the high ground or act like those who accept man-made global warming are crazy. It's the official position, and you now need extraordinary evidence for anyone to accept your extraordinary claim that all of the evidence collected by the world's climate scientists is in error.

The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change: How Do We Know We're Not Wrong? http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=


Given all the evidence that AGW is an intentional falsehood. The lack of evidence that GW would result in a net bad. the fact that over 90% of all the energy that CO2 is capable of trapping is already being trapped. This EU project is a ludicrous waste of money.

Besides using a membrane based oxygen concentrator, to produce the oxygen to either feed into a CO2 environment to support the combustion of fuel in an internal combustion engine, or feed an oxygen & fuel burner looks simpler, and more efficient. Plus you would get purified nitrogen as a byproduct.


This new method of CO2 capture is a step in the right direction.

As for the gullible sorts who fall for the Koch Industries anti-global warming propaganda, no amount of empirical data can undo the fine job that Karl Rove and company have done in concocting this fossil fuel profit protecting falsehood.


For gullible nothing matches believing \"scientists\" that have destroyed their data, conspired to keep rival opinions out of the journals, produced a demonstrably false graft (The hockey stick), who\'s computer models can not predict the present, and ten years in, their ten year predictions have uniformly failed to materialize.

AGW is a scam designed to defraud, and inflict Socialism on a panicked world.


true believers versus true denialists, its getting pathetic. But then the believers had to get all emotional and blame it on mankind. Theres plenty else to point to as cause, but, no, only one culprit was chose. This is only naturally gonna cause resistance. Then the author comes up with the really dumb opener: \"If there\'s one big environmental concern surrounding power plants that burn material such as coal in order to produce power, it\'s the amount of carbon dioxide that they release into the atmosphere.\" Granted that we are well past extreme concern for sulphur (but just wait till we return to low grade coal again!). Lets close our eyes to radon and other nuclear active materials as we always have. Lets forget that a well running coal plant is more radio-contamitating than a well running nuke plant. CO2 CO2 CO2...don\'t say anything else, stay on MANTRA!. Forget methane while you\'re at it. Leave that to the other agenda driven movement: the anti-meat people. And you wonder why you get resistance? yes, it\'s getting pathetic!

Yep dennis, it could support more of us, but each 1degree rise has a greater than you might inagine negative effect on crops. Not all agriculture benefits from heat. This is why yields are going down, acre for acre, even with the godawfull green revolution (read synthetic fertilizers so as to allow us to mine more \"foods\" to support lower quality of life for more teeming masses. You can throw \"logical\" statements all day. But the reality check is the facts on the ground. Yes, the heat gets captured, but not all points of capture have the same consequences. Heat in the ground is different than heat in the lower atmosphere, and that also from heat higher in the atmosphere. But it takews scientific education to get that. And that is a scarece quality on both sides, especially yours. Did I say pathetic? let me say it again- Pathetic!

Walt Stawicki

Even IF you do not believe that CO2 causes global warming, you must know that CO2 causes the acidification of water (and seawater) that will within decades decimate coral and shellfish. Go ahead and take some litmus paper to your bubbly Evian to check this out. This isn\'t some theory - it\'s a fact you can prove to your self. If you like eating mussels, shrimp, lobster and clams and oysters, you better take heed... Go ahead and try to deny ocean acidification - you can\'t.


@Paul Van Dither - A \"diseased mindset\"? Really??

The quote isn\'t an argument by the author it is a simple statement of fact (no one solution is widely accepted - not exactly news, but hardly controversial)

Neither the author or anyone else is suggesting that a particular solution should be mandatory, but in time some approaches are likely to become more popular ... because they are better, cheaper, and are a reflection of the best technology available at the time. For example I am willing to bet you drive a car powered by an internal combustion engine ... and so do all or very nearly all of the people in your street. Using your healthy mindset(?) I guess that must mean you live in a Communist state ...

@Todd, you are slipping mate. A while ago your form of guerilla propaganda warfare would have included a reference ... but allow me. Hey Dennis Klanac, far from your opinion meaning \"diddley squat\" you are absolutely spot on when you say \"A single volcano eruption can spew out more C02 in one event than man can in a whole year\" - just read this, it proves how right you are!


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