Bioenergy projects chosen for UK’s GHG removal programme
In June last year, the Prime Minister announced up to £100 million (€115 million) of new research and development funding to help develop direct air capture technologies in the UK. As part of this, the innovation competition seeks to support the development of greenhouse gas removals (GGR) technologies to help them achieve commercialisation.
Phase 2 of the competition will take forward the most promising designs from Phase 1, to pilot key components or further develop the design of the new direct air capture and other GGR technologies.
Winning projects – Phase 1
Bio-hydrogen GHG removal demonstration
Advanced Biofuel Solutions, working alongside Progressive Energy and University College London, has set out to optimise the production of bio-hydrogen with carbon capture and storage (CCS). The Climate Change Committee (CCC) identified CCS bio-hydrogen as the biomass pathway that offers the best greenhouse gas (GHG) performance.
Project partners will develop a detailed design and project delivery plan for a demonstration plant that will capture 1,800 tonnes of CO2 per annum, explore the benefits of sorption enhanced water gas shift bio-hydrogen production, and carry out a detailed life-cycle assessment of carbon capture technologies.
Biowaste to biochar via HTC
Another project, led by the University of Nottingham alongside industrial partners CPL Industries and Severn Trent Green Power (STGP), will explore biowaste to biochar. The expansion of AD, including food waste, indicates there is potential to produce ca. 0.5 MT per annum of biochar from biowastes by 2030.
Since hydrothermal carbonisation (HTC) operates at 200oC, subsequent carbonisation of the resultant biocoal is required to produce stable biochar containing low proportions of potentially degradable carbon.
Initial analysis has indicated that carbon sequestration costs are below £100 (€115) per tonne of CO2 avoided. The aim is to establish the feasibility of this approach and optimise process design and operation.
A digestate residue supplied by STGP will be treated by HTC in the pilot plant at UCL. Up to 10 tonnes of the resultant HTC biocoal will then be treated in a pilot plant to establish the quality of the biochar for sequestration that can be obtained by post-carbonisation, enabling design options to be considered for producing over 600 tonnes of biochar per annum (2,000 tonnes of CO2e) in the next development phase to achieve deployment by 2030.
Mersey Biochar: carbon negative community energy
Led by Severn Wye Energy Agency alongside Pure Leapfrog and industrial partner PyroCore, this project will develop pyrolysis technology to incorporate enhanced carbon capture capacity and produce a range of marketable outputs, including biochar for carbon sequestration, carbon products for construction, and heat for a local district heating network.
The project enables improved management of local woodland and forestry by utilising local waste wood, ultimately growing the local supply chain and improving the natural environment.
CCH2: carbon capture and hydrogen production from biomass
Kew Technology’s gasification process, demonstrated at its plant in the Midlands, uses a clean, compact process for conversion of biomass into a hydrogen-rich gas.
The CCH2 Project will develop designs for additional modules, which will upgrade this gas to produce separate high-purity hydrogen and CO2 streams. The hydrogen can be sold for industrial or transport applications and the CO2 sent for sequestration (20,000 tonnes per year, per module). The strong revenues from hydrogen enable overall very low costs per tonne of CO2 removed and the financing of sustainable biomass supply chains in a circular economy provide multiple environmental and societal benefits, including new rural and industrial jobs.
Negative emissions gasification
Led by Drax, this project aims to be carbon negative by 2030, reducing atmospheric concentrations of CO2 while generating clean, affordable renewable energy.
In this programme, Drax will further develop biomass gasification as a future carbon-negative technology. Gasification breaks down biomass into a gaseous mixture, which can be processed and purified to produce several useful energy vectors, such as electricity, biofuels, and hydrogen. Capturing and storing the residual biogenic CO2 emissions makes these energy vectors carbon negative.
Drax will lead an innovation programme to develop effective gasification strategies. If proven successful, this technology could be scaled up to provide industrial-level negative emission energy generation, in line with the CCC’s Sixth Carbon Budget advice to the government.
The BioChar Network: a road to demonstration and beyond
This project is led by Sofies UK alongside industry partners Arla Foods, BSW, Biomacon, R&S Biomass, and research partners, the University of Edinburgh, Newcastle University, and UKCEH.
The application of biochar has many benefits for soil, climate, and livestock, yet has failed to scale commercially due to the business model, not the technology, said the project developers. This project aims to transform the GGR market by creating the first integrated biochar network, consisting of one of the largest forestry and sawmilling businesses in the UK and a co-operative of over 2,000 dairy farms. This system can deliver low-cost biochar, removing at least one tonne of CO2 per hectare of pasture, per year, delivering an estimated 57,150 tonnes of CO2 removal by 2030.
Ricardo and Bluebox Energy have will design innovative carbon capture technology which will comprise: biochar production, combined heat and power generation, and CCUS. It will be demonstrated in 2022, with commercial deployment planned to start in 2024.
This technology uses undried waste wood from sustainably sourced domestic timber, producing biochar, heat, electricity, and commercial-grade CO2. The system will provide four outputs, providing low-cost carbon sequestration. Due to its modular nature, it can be easily and quickly deployed within the community, at farms, or near greenhouses, addressing the need for decentralised heat and electricity requirements.
Circular GGR solution utilising biochar produced from low-grade biomass
This project, led by Capchar, Biochar Project Services, and UK Hardwoods, aims to demonstrate that low-grade biomass can be converted into biochar and sequestered in UK soils, cost-effectively, to provide immediate near-permanent GHG removal. The project will provide a clear route to offset proposed targets of at least 50 kilotonnes of CO2 annually by 2030.
The development of the technology should result in the ability to scale efficient batch production to above one tonne of biochar per day. This, in turn, will create a cheaper, localised CCS solution, supporting local CO2 emissions reduction and can be quickly replicated across the UK.
Peel NRE and Bioenergy Infrastructure Group’s Phase 1 project will develop and design and 20 tonnes-per-day CO2 capture demonstration plant at the heart of the North West industrial cluster, underpinned by C-Capture technology and a 28.5 MWe biomass gasification unit.
Future phasing will deliver the first operational bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) plant in the North West of England, the first instance of integrated BECCS-gasification in the UK, the next innovative stride in C-Capture’s technology, and ultimately accelerate the adoption of BECCS-based carbon-negative power, the companies said.
The project is being delivered via a collaboration between Peel NRE and Bioenergy Infrastructure Group at their biomass plant in Protos, Peel L&P’s energy and resource hub in Cheshire.
Full details of all the projects can be found on the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s website.