Drax is collaborating with the University of Nottingham and Promethean Particles at its North Yorkshire power station in trials of an innovative new carbon capture technology. The trial is part of Drax’s ‘bioenergy with carbon capture and storage’ (BECCS) innovation programme and a successful trial could see the technology deployed in future BECCS plants.

The new process uses a type of solid sorbent called a metal-organic framework (MOF), which has been pioneered and developed by Promethean Particles. It can capture the CO2 released when sustainable biomass is used to generate electricity. CCS technologies typically use liquid solvents.

MOFs have a simple structure, which means they can be tailored to separate and soak up specific molecules, making them excellent for CCS. The trial will last for two months and will allow all three organisations to find out if this new carbon capture process performs well in real conditions on large-scale projects, and if it will be cost effective. At least one of its advantages over solvents it that less energy is needed to remove the CO2 from the sorbent once it has been removed from the flue gas stream.

Professor Ed Lester, the project leader, University of Nottingham, commented: “This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase how these solid adsorbents perform in an industrial setting. We know that this project is gathering a lot of interest across many industrial sectors that currently generate large amounts of CO2”.

Drax Group, which has converted its North Yorkshire power station to use sustainable biomass instead of coal, plans to deploy the BECCS through the next decade. This project would form the world’s largest carbon capture power project, delivering a significant proportion of the negative emissions needed for the UK to meet its climate targets.

How it works. The process takes place in two columns. Flue gas enters the first column, where the metal-organic framework separates the CO2 which bonds physically to the MOF by adsorption into its pores. The depleted flue gas is exhausted to atmosphere. In the second chamber process heat is used to remove the trapped CO2 and regenerate the MOF. Physical bonds require less energy for their release than solvent based methods. The resulting pure stream of CO2 is then compressed and stored for re-use or sequestration.