• Experimental exploration of cryogenic CO2 capture utilising a moving bed

      Font-Palma, Carolina; Willson, Paul; Cann, David G. (University of Chester, 2021-04)
      It is widely accepted that climate change is a result of the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The continued combustion of fossil fuels and subsequent emission of CO2 is leading to an increase in global temperatures, which has led to interest in decarbonising the energy sector. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a method of reducing carbon emissions from fossil fuel power plants by capturing CO2 from exhaust gases and storing it in underground gas stores. Carbon capture using chemical solvents is the most matured technology for capturing emissions from the energy sector, however as the energy sector continues to decarbonise with the arrival of renewable sources focus is shifting to other industries to reduce their carbon footprint. Solvent carbon capture has disadvantages including requiring large equipment and large amounts of heat to regenerate solvent for capture, meaning it would be difficult to scale the technology down and apply it to other industrial applications. Cryogenic carbon capture (CCC) is one proposed method of CCS at smaller scale, which captures CO2 by freezing CO2 out of the exhaust gases as CO2 forms a frost on a heat transfer surface. One disadvantage of CCC is the accumulation of CO2 frost reduces the efficiency of the capture process. The process must be periodically shut down to regenerate the heat transfer surface and collect CO2 that has been frozen out of exhaust gases. This thesis proposes to overcome the frost accumulation through the use of a moving packed bed of small spherical metal beads as the heat transfer surface. As CO2 is fed into a capture column and freezes onto the metal beads, the metal beads are removed from the column, regenerated to recover the CO2, then cooled and recirculated back into the capture column. This prevents the accumulation of frost and allows continuous CO2 capture. There are many difficulties identified in this project, primarily a lack of knowledge on CO2 frost formation and how heat transfer in a moving bed affects frost formation. The research done on a purpose built experimental rig is critical in improving the future design work of a next generation moving bed CCC system. The frost accumulation in a capture column is known as a frost front, which advanced through the capture column at a fixed velocity until the column is saturated with frost. Experimental results had shown that the frost front velocity is predictable for varying CO2 concentrations and gas flow rates, with frost front velocities between 0.46-0.78 mm/s for CO2 concentrations between 4-18% v/v and 0.36-0.98 mm/s for gas flow rates between 50-120 LPM. These frost front velocity experiments in a fixed packed bed allowed the design of a moving packed bed column to set the bed flow rate to match the frost front velocity. The moving bed experiments show that the excessive accumulation of CO2 frost within the capture column can be prevented by utilising the moving bed. The successful development of a moving bed CCC system would result in a cost effective solution to the requirements of certain smaller applications that need to capture CO2, which make up a significant portion of emissions. In particular this technology is very economical for biogas upgrading, where the CO2 content of biogas must be removed before the gas can be introduced to the UK’s larger gas network. There is also a growing interest for use in shipping and other maritime applications, capturing CO2 from ship exhaust emissions during transit.