Nottingham is a key partner in UK's new £13m carbon capture centre

Power station chimneys
05 Apr 2012 12:15:00.000


The University of Nottingham is a key part of a new research centre that will help to tackle climate change.

Researchers at Nottingham will play a lead role in the new UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre (UKCCSRC), a £13m initiative announced by the Government.

The Centre will lead research into carbon capture and storage, which aims to separate greenhouse gases from power generation and store them safely — before they are released into the atmosphere to contribute to global warming.

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The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) will invest £10 million in the Centre over a five-year period, with funding of £3 million from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to establish new capital facilities that will support innovative research. This forms part of the Research Councils UK Energy Programme, which is led by EPSRC.

DECC also launched its CCS Commercialisation Programme and Roadmap, setting out the Government’s vision for achieving commercial deployment of CCS in the UK in the 2020s, including investing £125 million in CCS research and development between 2011-2015.

World-class academics

The new Centre will bring together over 100 of the UK’s world-class CCS academics and provides a national focal point for CCS research and development. It will be a virtual network where academics, industry, regulators and others in the sector can collaborate on analysing problems and undertaking world-leading research.

A key priority will be to support the UK economy — by driving an integrated research programme focused on maximising the contribution of CCS to a low-carbon energy system for the UK.

Dr Trevor Drage, Associate Professor in Clean Fossil Energy at The University of Nottingham, said: “Nottingham is one of the key partners in the new UK CCS Research Centre. Academics at the University lead and are involved in a number of multidisciplinary research projects on CCS, for example projects on developing novel capture technologies funded by E.ON and EPSRC as well a collaborative research projects with China and recently funded project on carbon capture from natural gas.

“The centre also compliments the Efficient Fossil Energy Technology EngD centre which aims to train the research and industry leaders of the future in clean fossil energy and CCS. The UKCCSRC is an exciting development and through the collaboration Nottingham academics and researchers will continue to undertake world leading research and be a key partner in the programme to commercialise CCS in the UK.”

Power plants that burn fossil fuels represent the main source of CO2 emissions, the worldwide total for which was estimated at 29.7bn metric tonnes in 2007. The UK has a target to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, a significant task that requires systemic changes to every sector of energy generation and use, including in industrial applications.

CCS technologies are considered an essential bridge between our present fossil energy — coal, oil and gas — and the renewable energy systems that are expected to dominate in the future. CCS involves capturing CO2 emitted from the burning of fossil fuels in power plants and industrial processes and transporting it to secure geological storage sites under the seabed.

CCS technologies are predicted by many to become a major element in the reduction of CO2 emissions which are linked to global warming, climate change and ocean acidification.

State-of-the-art facilities

Nottingham academics will have access to new state-of-the-art capture research facilities, which will allow scientists and engineers to uncover the complexities of carbon capture and work with industrial partners to develop improved technologies. Facilities include:

  • Pilot scale advanced testing facilities in Yorkshire, with a 1 tonne CO2 per day amine capture facility
  • A mobile testing unit to allow a range of tests to be conducted on real power station flue gases
  • Advanced oxyfuel fluidised bed and chemical looping pilot facilities.

Professor David Delpy, Chief Executive of EPSRC, said: “This centre will act as a catalyst for coordinating CCS research in the UK, improving cooperation between researchers and taking a whole systems approach. It will also be a route for industry and other stakeholders into research, and for knowledge exchange and the exploitation of intellectual property.

“I am delighted that we have been able to work together with DECC, which is providing capital facilities that will sit alongside the centre.”

The 10 founding institutions are: The Universities of Edinburgh, Nottingham, Cambridge, Cranfield, Durham, Leeds, Newcastle, and Imperial College London, the British Geological Survey and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory. The Centre will have its coordination base at the University of Edinburgh. There will be scope for members from many other institutions to become involved with the Centre during its operation.

Edward Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said: “This new Research Centre will support our efforts to reduce the costs of CCS and accelerate its deployment. It further underlines the UK’s world-class CCS research.”

A major activity at Nottingham

Research to cut the cost of cost of CCS is already a major activity at Nottingham. The University has E.ON-EPSRC funded research projects and collaborative research with China in this area, in novel capture technologies and physical property data for pipeline transport.

The RCUK Energy Programme has already established the Sustainable Power Generation (SUPERGEN) programme of world-leading research in areas such as wind and marine, photovoltaic, hydrogen and bioenergy. SUPERGEN is structured in hubs, coordinating large consortia of UK academics, industry and other key stakeholders for innovative research. It is envisaged that the new CCS Research Centre will be supported in a similar way to the SUPERGEN structure, and that it will bring together and integrate existing research projects in CCS.

The Centre’s first goal will be to undertake a process to identify further research needed to accelerate CCS deployment. Once the priority research areas and any challenges to these have been highlighted, the Centre’s multidisciplinary teams of leading researchers will work with key UK and international partners on areas where they will have the maximum potential impact.

The Centre will also rapidly grow its research scope and membership base and consolidate links with major European and other overseas research centres.

As part of the RCUK Energy Programme, EPSRC is also investing £4.8 million in several projects on CCS research specific to natural gas power plants. This new contribution to the Centre’s research portfolio will look at challenges across the CCS chain specific to natural gas including next generation/enhanced capture technologies, increased efficiency, systems integration and scale-up.

Nottingham’s researchers — Dr Hao Liu, Professor Colin Snape, Dr Trevor Drage and Dr Chenggong Sun — had also been awarded £756,000 to develop solid sorbents for CO2 capture from natural gas power plants.

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has 40,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘the world’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking 2011.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2011, for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fund-raising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800 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. 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.

The UK CCS Research Centre (UKCCSRC) is a virtual hub that brings together leading UK researchers, acting as the two-way interface for government, industry and international collaboration. The UKCCSRC will innovate, lead and coordinate a programme of underpinning research on all aspects of CCS in support of basic science and UK government efforts on energy and climate change.

Story credits

More information is available from Dr Trevor Drage, Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 9514099,; EPSRC Press Office on +44 (0)1793 444 404,
Tim Utton

Tim Utton - Deputy Director of Communications

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8092 Location: University Park

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