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07 May 2013 10:05:51

CO2 Technology Centre Mongstad announces groundbreaking first demonstration year

One year on from its inauguration, CO2 Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM) has announced achievements that are crucial to de-risking Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) investments.

The main function of TCM’s first stage of operation has been to test solvents used to absorb CO2 from fossil fuel exhaust gases. Two technology demonstrations have been overlaid onto TCM’s core utility infrastructure which provides access to 100,000 tonnes per year of simulated coal, oil and gas-fired CO2 flue gases from a gas-fired combined heat and power plant and a refinery cracker. TCM is the only industrial-scale test centre for gas fired emissions globally, giving it a unique relevance in the context of the current global dash for gas.

Since test activity started in July 2012 the facility has been in operation for more than 5,000 hours. The TCM core utility infrastructure has operated with more than 98% availability. This has made it possible to supply the two absorption plants with exhaust gas and other utilities as requested by the two technology owners utilizing the large scale test units. TCM is currently testing Aker Solutions amine technology in the amine plant and Alstom Chilled Ammonia technology the ammonia plant. Once the plants were tested and accepted by TCM, each vendor is allowed an agreed period to test and improve their technologies. The tests in the amine plant have been performed according to the vendor’s test plan, with two different solvents, including transient tests and reclaimer operation. Similarly, testing, optimization and modification of the ammonia plant is on-going in cooperation with Alstom.

As well as testing technologies, rigorous air sampling undertaken during plant operations has made a major contribution to CCS by gaining real life results from industrial testing related to the formation, degradation and dispersion of amine solvents. Based on the TCM programme, three scientific reports have been published, which for the first time have independently recommended the viability of safe amine carbon capture.

To enable technology verification, TCM’s industrial-scale laboratory collects a vast amount of data from more than 4,000 measuring points connected to online instruments. The lab tests around 100 samples each day, providing vital information on the selection and use of amine and ammonia chemicals for absorbing and releasing CO2 with minimum energy use. Instruments and sampling systems have been successfully verified and optimized, which is an important achievement for technology development and verification of CCS technologies.

Another development is that, tests are soon to be performed with a solvent mix of the amine, monoethanolamine (MEA), and water. An absorption process using MEA is used as a base case when different CCS technologies are evaluated and tested. Tests will be performed with 30 wt.% MEA solution in water and with two feed sources (natural gas fired power plant exhaust and refinery cracker exhaust). The MEA based chemical absorption process is used as a baseline when comparing different carbon capture technologies. TCM’s MEA test will provide a new and improved baseline from an industrial-size “lab” facility. The baseline will be valid for a variety of CCS applications, both in the process industry and in power production.

Tore Amundsen, chairman of TCM DA and CEO of Gassnova SF, said: "At a time when so many full-scale projects are being delayed, the importance of R&D, testing and demonstration is even greater. TCM is unique in a global context. We are optimistic and believe that TCM will play an important role going forward. The Norwegian government involvement is essential for TCM's existence and future."

Frank Ellingsen, managing director, CO2 Technology Centre Mongstad, said: "The last year has brought new levels of certainty to expected capital expenditure and ongoing costs of CCS by establishing the viability of capture processes. These advancements have reduced the knowledge gap of CCS technological development. It's very exciting to see that off the back of these achievements, world-leading technologists are lining up to take advantage of the ongoing programme.”"

Henning Østvig, senior vice president in Aker Solutions, said: "Our advanced carbon capture technology is being demonstrated every day at industrial scale with a high plant uptime and at a capture rate of the predefined 85-90%. Results from emission monitoring campaigns at TCM has shown excellent results, which was one of the most important issues to be demonstrated before scaling up the technology to full-scale carbon capture at Mongstad. We in Aker Solutions are very proud of this achievement and knowledge gained."

Eric Staurset, country president ALSTOM Norway AS said: "We are proud to be part of the world’s most advanced test centre for development of CO2 capture technologies. Our experiences so far with our chilled ammonia process at Mongstad have confirmed our view of the chilled ammonia technology as a viable and very competitive technology".

Howard Herzog, senior research engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), said: "CO2 Technology Centre Mongstad is a great asset to the worldwide CCS community. At a time when it is proving difficult to finance a large-scale CCS demonstration, due in part to the current economic concerns as well as uncertainty in climate policy, TCM provides a path forward for technological innovation."

From 2014, the next round of testing of other absorption solvents will begin at TCM’s amine plant, which is capable of processing up to 80,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. Aker Solutions, Hitachi, Mitsubishi and Siemens have all registered their interest in this first invitation cycle. Negotiations are currently underway to finalize the next users. TCM is also offering available space designated for installing further technology test unit(s), either for the construction of a new generation solvent test facility, or for entirely new technologies. Companies can register their interest for utilization of this additional space with TCM until July 1st 2013.

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