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CO2 capture and storage

To reduce global warming and comply with the Paris agreements, it is essential to drastically cut CO2 emissions. A combination of solutions will be required to meet the target of limiting the overall increase in global temperature to below 2°C by 2100: improved energy efficiency, development of renewable energies, and CO2 capture, utilization and storage (CCUS).
According to the IEA (BLUE Map scenario), CCUS will prevent the emission of some 8.2 billion tons of CO2 between now and 2050, representing 19% of the reduction needed. The implementation of capture technologies is therefore crucially important in terms of protecting the world’s climate…

Testing innovative capture technology on an industrial scale: the CHEERS project

A particularly promising capture technology is Chemical Looping Combustion (CLC). This consists in concentrating CO2 in flue gases to make it easier to separate it from other components. Currently being tested in the lab and on a pilot unit at IFPEN’s Solaize site, the process will be trialed on a demonstrator, built and operated in China.
This dedicated unit will be operated within the context of the CHEERS (Chinese European Emission Reducing Solutions) project, jointly funded by the European Union (Horizon 2020 program) and the Chinese Ministry of Sciences and Technologies. The 5-year (2018/2022) CHEERS project brings together players who have long been involved in the CCUS chain, including IFPEN, SINTEF (project coordinator), Total (IFPEN’s partner in the development of CLC technology), Tsinghua University (a leading Chinese University) and Dongfang Boiler (Chinese industrial operator in the energy sector).


3 questions for… Stéphane Bertholin, CHEERS project manager at IFPEN

Why is IFPEN involved in the CHEERS project?

The CHEERS project will enable us to reach a major new milestone: the operation of a demonstration pilot in a semi-industrial environment. This is a necessary stage in the development of any new technology in order to verify that it is extrapolable and viable on an industrial scale.

IFPEN has been working on CCUS for almost 20 years and we are focusing particularly on CO2 capture, since this accounts for the bulk of the cost of the capture/storage chain. In addition to our DMXTM process, which has made IFPEN a pioneer in the field of postcombustion technologies, we have also been developing an innovative process using Chemical Looping Combustion (CLC) for the past fifteen or so years.
Our research, conducted in partnership with Total since 2008, has resulted in a number of patents and our researchers have built up a reputation for excellence in this field around the world. The basics of the process have been validated at IFPEN-Lyon using several cold models and a 10 kW pilot unit. We are now ready to increase the scale to apply the technologies in an industrial setting: that is the objective of the CHEERS project.     

IFPEN/Total CLC pilot at IFPEN-Lyon

What are the objectives of the project?

The aim is to demonstrate the operational nature of the technology in a scenario identified by Total: enable a refinery to use petcoke (a solid hydrocarbon, the final residue left by petroleum conversion processes) to produce electricity and steam without generating CO2 emissions. To achieve this, the project must design, build and operate a dedicated demonstration unit based on our technology. This unit will be constructed at an experimental site run by the energy company Dongfang in China.
Within the project, IFPEN is responsible for designing the demonstrator and assessing the performance of the CLC process in the complete CCUS chain. We were given this responsibility on the strength of our widely recognized expertise in the operation of pilot units - at our Solaize site in particular - and the development of innovative processes. Along with the project’s other partners, we are also involved in the selection of the metal oxide to be used as oxygen carrier, the engineering studies, as well as the construction and performance of tests.

What industrial prospects are opened up by the CHEERS project?

CHEERS should enable us to validate all the technological concepts we hope to implement on an industrial scale, in particular for controlling the oxygen carrier circulation , which is the key element in the operation of the CLC process tested.

The success of the project will position IFPEN, in partnership with Total, as a world leader in the field of CLC technology, and a first industrial unit may well be achieved within the next ten years or so. This would pave the way for the broad dissemination of the technology to major industrial facilities faced with the challenge of producing low-carbon energy, such as electric power plants or refineries.

What is CLC?

CO2 capture by oxycombustion consists in burning hydrocarbons in the presence of pure oxygen instead of air, making it possible to obtain flue gases with a higher CO2 concentration (concentration of above 90%) and to facilitate its capture.
The main obstacle to the use of this technology is related to the separation of oxygen from air, something that is generally done via cryogenic distillation, which is not only expensive but also very energy intensive. To avoid the cost of this separation, the Chemical Looping Combustion (CLC) process consists in using a metal oxide to transport oxygen to the combustion zone without combining it with nitrogen from air.
The main two advantages of CLC are:

  • a low energy penalty because the oxygen is separated from air by means of a metal oxide,
  • the capacity to treat different types of hydrocarbons: natural gas, heavy fuel, coal, or even petcoke as envisaged for the CHEERS project.

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