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Durham University News


New £13M UK Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage research to be established

(5 April 2012)

Professor Jon Gluyas

Professor Jon Gluyas

Durham University is playing a leading role in a new national project to improve Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) research in the UK.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has announced a £13 million investment to establish a UK Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Research Centre. This forms part of the Research Councils UK (RCUK) Energy Programme which is led by EPSRC.

EPSRC will invest £10 million over a five-year period, with funding of £3 million from DECC to establish new capital facilities that will support innovative research. DECC is also launching its CCS Commercialisation Programme and Roadmap today which will set 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.

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. The Centre 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 that is focused on maximising the contribution of CCS to a low-carbon energy system for the UK.

The new state-of-the-art capture research facilities will allow UK scientists and engineers to uncover the complexities of carbon capture and work with industrial partners and SMEs to develop improved capture technologies. They 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 Jon Gluyas, Dong/Ikon Chair in Geoenergy, Carbon Capture & Storage, Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University, said: "This centre will enable businesses and industry in the North East to call upon the brightest talent in Carbon Capture and Storage research from CO2 capture itself to transportation and storage. The national centre allows us to build upon our established expertise in the region and to develop stronger links with other leading research institutions.

"This is great news for the North East and allows regional partners to help to develop energy policy and practice at a national level."

Durham University will lead on potential storage test site selection and co-lead on geo-storage options.

In addition to looking at CO2 storage in the subsurface, Durham University has recently undertaken a study to determine the net worth of injecting CO2 into North Sea oil reservoirs to enhance oil recovery. The study found that it would be possible to recover an additional three billion barrels of oil over the next 20 years using the technique known as CO2-Enhanced Oil Recovery. With a current oil price of $125/barrel, this equates to around £250 billion in increased revenue for the UK.

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.

Professor David Delpy, CEO 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."

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."

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.

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

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.

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