• £21.2m awarded to 5 UK projects as part of Hydrogen BECCS Innovation Programme Phase 2

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      Greg Kelsall

Mannok Cement Plant in Ballyconnell –part of CATAGEN Phase 1 project

£21.2 million of funding has been awarded as part of the demonstration stage of the BECCS Innovation Programme, with up to £5 million of funding awarded per project.  The Phase 2 competition was open to all projects that successfully completed Phase 1 across 3 technology categories:

  • feedstock pre-processing: the development of low cost, energy and material efficient technologies which will optimise biogenic (including biomass and waste) feedstocks for use in Advanced Gasification Technologies
  • gasification components: the development of Advanced Gasification Technology components focusing on improving syngas quality and upgrading for generation of hydrogen
  • novel biohydrogen technologies: the development of novel biohydrogen technologies which can be combined with carbon capture. such as dark fermentation, anaerobic digestion, waste water treatment

The funding aims to deliver commercially viable hydrogen BECCS innovations across the gasification components and novel biohydrogen technology categories, with details as follows:

Micro-H2 Hub utilising biogenic feedstock for hydrogen and CO2 production

Compact Syngas Solutions Ltd (CSS) have developed an advanced gasification process to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative clean energy technologies and processes. H2 is seen as a clean energy fuel, with the ability to generate H2 from biogenic feedstocks via gasification, combined with carbon capture and storage.

Biogenic feedstock wastes are usually sent to landfill where the biogenic content degrades and emits carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane. CSS propose that this type of waste material can be turned into syngas which can then be used to produce H2 for use as a clean fuel.

Project objectives, deliverables and benefits are described as:

  • demonstrate the use of water (rather than chemicals) as a method of removing CO2 from the syngas, such that the CO2 can be captured and then either (a) stored/sequestrated, or (b) purified and sold for applications  where CO2 is used (such as manufacturing, packaging). 
  • to perform extended trial runs of 1000-hour of continuous operation, thereby raising the technology readiness level

High efficiency H2 and CO2 separation through pressurised water absorption

Demonstration of KEW’s carbon capture and fuel-cell vehicle grade Hydrogen production at KEW’s Sustainable Energy Centre in the UK. The innovative solution uses Pressurised Water Absorption (PWA).  Under pressure, CO2 is absorbed into the liquid, whereas the H2 is not, with separation therefore achieved. As soon as the pressure of the CO2-rich liquid is reduced, the CO2 is released and can be captured. The pioneering hydrogen BECCS solution reduces energy consumption and avoids use of chemicals which will achieve very effective energy performances that will significantly improve the cost-effectiveness of producing H2 from non-recyclable wastes or biomass.

The funding will help the end-to-end demonstration reference hours to validate the separation technology given that there are no existing reference hours for this specific application. This will then enable the acceleration of the commercialisation and deployment of KEW’s emerging waste-to-H2 technology solution at a much lower Levelised Cost of Hydrogen.

An independent assessment of KEW’s GHG analysis for this scenario has an overall capture and savings of over 25 ktCO2/y per module.  

Design and demonstration of a waste biomass to biohydrogen production system

CATAGEN is applying its proprietary recirculating-gas reactor technology to develop a cost-effective method of producing low-carbon biohydrogen. This approach can facilitate the early adoption of low-carbon hydrogen and greatly accelerate the route to a Net Zero hydrogen economy.

The production of hydrogen from sustainable biomass is a key challenge in the realisation of a hydrogen economy. In the previous Phase 1, CATAGEN developed an initial prototype – the ClimaHtech BIOHGEN reactor – and has proven the feasibility of a low-cost solution, capable of delivering high quantities of biohydrogen within the next few years. This is ahead of 2030 targets and in advance of widespread, low-cost green hydrogen production from electrolysis. CATAGEN’s novel approach reportedly requires less capital investment and much lower production costs, and discussions are underway with potential off-takers in heavy industry and mobility. GHG emissions are net zero with the bioCO2 produced being used to further displace fossil CO2 currently used in several industries such as carbonated beverage industry, food packaging or greenhouses for plant and crop production.

CATAGEN is also developing complementary technologies in hydrogen compression and e‑fuel/ advanced biofuel production to further its purpose to clean and decarbonise the air.

Pure Pyrolysis Refined

Environmental Power International (EPi) has developed a unique Pure Pyrolysis technology for the treatment of waste and other organic feedstocks. The key outputs are a high-quality fuel gas and a carbon rich char. Uniquely, heat is provided to the system by electricity, meaning that there is no combustion and therefore no emissions.

Residence time, temperature and pressure are controlled, enabling conversion of a wide range of feedstocks and manipulation of the outputs. The plant is modular, allowing installations to be sized to meet local requirements. The process is described as being extremely efficient in terms of energy produced, relative to energy consumed.

The process has been developed in the UK and successfully trialled at full scale over more than 20 years. The technology has advanced through a number of R&D plants, but the focus to date has been on production of electricity and heat through means of gas engines. However, gas engines are relatively inefficient and produce emissions. The Hydrogen BECCS programme presented EPi with the opportunity to focus on producing hydrogen with zero emissions. Phase 1 involved extensive laboratory tests combined with comprehensive g-Proms modelling, modifying the process for hydrogen production and carbon capture. The integrated design incorporates three subsystems: The EPi Pyrolyser, Gas Refinery and Plasma Torches. The high levels of hydrogen produced combined with the capture of carbon in solid form, make the EPi solution highly attractive, both commercially and environmentally. In Phase 2 the solution will be demonstrated on a site near Ipswich, UK.

The sustainable biogas, graphene and hydrogen LOOP Phase 2

This project aims to provide a completely sustainable feed source for the production of H2 and graphene. By adopting biogas from the treatment of wastewater as the feed material to the Levidian LOOP process, the project will be able to provide a resource efficient and continuous supply of a fuel source (hydrogen) and a means of carbon capture and storage (graphene). The process will open up opportunities for multiple industries to become carbon neutral. The UK water industry produces 489 million m3 of biogas per year from its anaerobic digestion processes. This biogas is generally used for the production of heat and power for operational uses and providing gas to the grid. The patented LOOP technology provides water companies with the opportunity to support other industries in the quest for decarbonisation whilst also maximising the value of biogas for customers through the exploration of different circular economy applications.  By combining the technical know-how of Levidian, the biogas resource available from United Utilities and expertise in carbon lifecycle analysis and commercialisation from their supply chain, the consortium has the knowledge and experience required to implement the construction and operation of a demonstration LOOP.