CSIRO is devloping new chemical solvents to capture carbon from coal-fired power station flue gases
Post combustion capture
Our scientists are developing and trialling carbon-capture technology used to capture the carbon dioxide produced by coal-fired power stations.
29 November 2010 | Updated 14 December 2012
When fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas are combusted, they emit carbon dioxide (CO2), a major contributor to climate change.
Coal produces some 75 per cent of Australia’s electricity and approximately 40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.
We need cleaner ways to generate energy from coal.
Capturing CO2 before it is emitted to the atmosphere and storing it in stable geological strata underground is one way to achieve this.
Post combustion capture (PCC) is a proven technology and already widely used in the oil, gas and petrochemical industries.
The challenge is to make the capture process affordable and more efficient so it is commercially viable for the coal-fired power generators to implement.
The benefits of PCC
The PCC process typically uses a liquid absorber such as amine* to capture CO2 from the flue gases of a power station before it is released to the atmosphere.
More than 85 per cent of the CO2 from flue gas can be captured by the absorber and it is then compressed and cooled to to form a liquid that can be transported and stored safely in stable underground strata.
A PCC plant can be retrofitted to an existing power plant or integrated with new infrastructure.
It is flexible and can incorporate new technology innovations.
Renewable technologies such as solar thermal can be integrated with PCC to provide a heat source for the process and reduce the integration costs at the power station.
The research program
CSIRO is recognised internationally for its expertise in PCC technology.
In collaboration with industry partners, pilot scale capture plants have been constructed and operated in Australia and China. The pilot plants have facilitated real-world studies of the PCC process in different operating conditions using actual flue gases from power stations.
A comprehensive laboratory-based research program has evaluated a range of capture agents based on dedicated amine formulations, new designer amines, ionic liquids and enzyme technologies.
The results have confirmed CSIRO’s original analysis that more than 85 per cent of carbon dioxide can be captured and that the energy performance of PCC can be improved by 50 per cent.
CSIRO is continuing the development of PCC with the aims of lowering the technology cost and significantly reducing the energy penalty or loss of efficiency at Australian coal-fired power stations.
CSIRO performs research in both CO2 capture and storage. This section describes CSIRO's work in CO2 capture. For information on our carbon storage research, read about:
* Amine - A substance derived from ammonia by replacing one, two or three hydrogen atoms with hydrocarbon or other groups.