A giant step closer to amine-based CO2 capture
The results of extensive research are opening up the possibility of further developing amine-based CO2 capture. The necessary measuring methods are now in place, and the amine emissions are not as harmful as first thought.
Amines are a group of chemicals that can be used to clean CO2 from flue gases. This process will lead to minor amine emissions. In this process, as well as in nature, some of these emissions can be converted into carcinogenic nitrosamines and nitramines.
Therefore, Gassnova, in cooperation with Statoil, has coordinated and contributed to a comprehensive research programme with the aim of increasing knowledge about amines and their degradation products. This work has now taken a giant step forward through the development of a set of measuring methods that can determine whether the suppliers' amine technology is safe. There have been promising results from the research done in this area.
Up to the suppliers
The potential impact on health and the environment has been studied through the CLIMIT programme, the CO2 Technology Centre Mongstad and the full-scale project at Mongstad. The research has placed special emphasis on studying the properties of nitrosamines and nitramines. This has contributed to new knowledge on formation, degradation and spread of these degradation products in the environment. The programme has also looked at ways of limiting these emissions, as well as improving existing measurement methods.
Optimism has emerged, along with a conviction that it is possible to mature amine technologies that will not harm human beings or the environment. Currently, however, it is up to each individual supplier of technology to document that their amine mixture and technological solution qualify.
An important part of the technology qualification for the full-scale project at Mongstad is to establish whether the vendors can meet the health and environment requirements stipulated by the authorities. Four of five potential vendors for the full-scale facility – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries LTD, Siemens AG, Aker Clean Carbon AS and Huaneng-CERI Powerspan Joint Venture – have technologies based on amines or amino acids. Specific test rigs have been constructed to examine different amine mixtures, and analysis methods have been developed with sufficient sensitivity to measure emissions from these. During the first half of next year, all four will have completed this phase of the qualification programme.
More rapid breakdown
So far, the amine programme, with a budget of about NOK 150 million, has resulted in 55 projects carried out by international and Norwegian research institutions. These projects have endeavoured to shed light on the most important aspects of amine-based CO2 capture in terms of health and the environment.
The results have included the development of methods to reduce amine emissions from the capture facility. Knowledge has been established concerning the most important processes by which amines are dispersed and broken down in the atmosphere. Before the authorities, represented by Klif (Climate and Pollution Agency), set preliminary limit values for nitrosamines and nitramines in the summer of 2011, a number of studies were initiated to obtain more knowledge about some of the potential carcinogenic properties of degradation products.
In the time ahead, the focus will be on applying the methods developed within sampling and analysis, as well as dispersion calculations to determine how the vendors' specific amines and their technology solutions correspond with the criteria laid down by Klif and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
The work that has been done, has been essential. Responsible public authorities cannot initiate billion-kroner projects without being completely certain that they are safe for people and the environment. The knowledge we have now acquired is a good foundation for selecting the technology for the full-scale project at Mongstad.
Reports from the second call-off of the amin research ("TQP Amin call off 2") available and can be found below:
Process and atmospheric chemistry
Sampling and analysis
Emission dispersion model development
Emission reduction techniques