The University of Nottingham is to share in £6.9m of research funding to investigate carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies which could drastically cut CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel power stations. The funding from E.ON and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council is to support four university-led projects.
CCS is a process that allows carbon dioxide to be captured from power stations and then stored underground to prevent it from entering the Earth's atmosphere. It's a technology that is advancing all the time and could well make fossil-fuelled generation a true low-carbon source of energy.
Project teams led by the universities of Nottingham, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Leeds will investigate combustion and CO2 capture and transport technologies that could help make a crucial step towards meeting UK and global emission reduction targets.
Dr Trevor Drage from the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at The University of Nottingham will lead a £1.6m research project involving a consortium of four universities to look at how the surfaces of materials can be chemically altered to enhance CO2 absorption or ‘soak up’ rates. This may be an alternative to chemical absorption using amines in post-combustion capture systems. The other participants are the University of Birmingham, the University of Liverpool and University College London.
The University of Nottingham will also be collaborating with Newcastle University to address some of the technical and material challenges of large-scale transportation of CO2 through pipelines. Nottingham’s expertise in chemical engineering, chemistry and mathematics will help the development of a transport pipeline network. The other members of the group are University College London, Cranfield University, and Imperial College London as well as range of industry partners.
Colin Snape, Professor of Chemical Technology and Chemical Engineering, at The University of Nottingham, will be working with Leeds University, Imperial College London, Cranfield University, the University of Kent, and the University of Cambridge on the oxyfuel combustion process in which coal is burned in a mix of pure oxygen and power station flue gases, creating a stream of CO2 that can be captured for storage.
Dr Trevor Drage said: “The funding brings together world leading research at The University of Nottingham and other universities in the UK to develop and deliver CCS technologies which are critical in the fight against global climate change.
“These exciting research collaborations between engineers and scientists are essential in pushing the UK towards the forefront of developing CCS technology. Also key for the development of these important technologies is the interaction of academia and industry, like E.ON UK, which these projects help to promote.”
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Announcing the funding, Dr Paul Golby, the Chief Executive of E.ON UK, said: “CCS is the most important technology we have in the fight against climate change — if we can get it right then we can look forward to a secure, low carbon energy future for the UK.
“Alongside new nuclear and renewable sources, coal is a vital part of our energy mix. These latest research projects are vital in identifying solutions that will enable fossil-fuel generation to be a key part of maintaining secure, affordable and low carbon energy.
“Collaborations such as this one with EPSRC are combining innovation and some of the best minds in our universities to deliver clean, sustainable energy systems for the future.”
The UK is committed to reducing carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. In the short-term the Government advisory body, the Committee for Climate Change, has suggested an interim cut of at least 34 per cent by 2020.
David Delpy, EPSRC Chief Executive, said: "This illustrates the enormous benefit that can arise from strategic partnerships like the one we have with E.ON. Carbon capture and storage is already a research priority for UK researchers and through previous Research Council funding we have built up a significant expertise within the academic sector. The research programmes we’re announcing today mean that we can rapidly build on this expertise and speed up the introduction of these vital greener energy technologies."
The EPSRC is funding a fourth consortium, led by the University of Edinburgh, on improving the economics of large-scale carbon capture and storage and how to separate CO2 formed by emissions from fossil fuel power stations.
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.
More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.
The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy), and was named ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.
Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives (www.science-city.co.uk) in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City.
E.ON is one of the UK’s leading power and gas companies — generating and distributing electricity, and retailing power and gas — and is one part of the E.ON Group, one of the world’s largest investor-owned power and gas companies. We employ around 17,000 people in the UK. We are investing £50 million in new technologies and approaches over 10 years, through the Energy Technologies Institute. This is the third phase of the partnership between E.ON and EPSRC. More than £6 million of research into low carbon and energy efficiency technologies is already taking place in other projects launched by the partnership during the last three years. This funding is part of Research Council's Energy Programme. EPSRC leads the programme on behalf of the Research Councils. The mission of the Energy Programme is to position the UK to meet its energy and environmental targets and policy goals through high quality research and postgraduate training.
The EPSRC is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences.
The EPSRC invests around £740 million a year in research and postgraduate training to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. The EPSRC also actively promotes public awareness of science and engineering. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.