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Drax Group has announced that the bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) pilot project at Drax Power Station in north-east England has started capturing carbon dioxide.
The demonstration plant at the power station, located near Selby in North Yorkshire, is using innovative technology, developed by Leeds-based C-Capture, to capture a tonne of CO2 a day, during the pilot. This is the first-time carbon dioxide has been captured from the combustion of a 100% biomass feedstock anywhere in the world.
Drax Power Station is comprised of six generating units with a total installed capacity of 3,906 MW. Since 2003, four of the units have been upgraded from burning coal to use sustainable biomass in the form of compressed wood pellets, constituting the largest decarbonisation project in Europe. The BECCS pilot will examine further options for similar re-purposing of existing infrastructure to deliver more carbon savings.
Engineers began commissioning the pilot plant in November with the first carbon now being captured, proving that the proprietary solvent developed by C-Capture can be used to isolate the carbon dioxide from the flue gases released when biomass is used to generate electricity.
Drax has invested GBP400,000 (~US$515,000) in the pilot, which could be the first of several projects undertaken at the power station to deliver a rapid, lower cost demonstration of BECCS.
Work has already been undertaken to ensure the solvent C-Capture has developed is compatible with the biomass flue gas at Drax Power Station. This was completed last summer along with a lab-scale study into the feasibility of re-utilising the flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) absorbers at the power station.
FGD equipment is vital for reducing sulphur emissions from coal, but it is no longer required to control sulphur on four of the generating units at Drax that have been upgraded to use biomass, because the wood pellets used produce minimal levels of sulphur.
The Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering have estimated that BECCS could enable us to capture 50 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year by 2050 – approximately half the UK’s emissions target.