Hitachi Power Europe is to join forces with utilities Electrabel and E.ON Kraftwerke to design, build and operate a test facility to develop carbon dioxide (CO2) scrubbing technology.

The aim of the joint research project is to investigate the behaviour of different solvents in the scrubbing process, which captures CO2 from power plant flue gases. It forms part of Hitachi’s global R&D strategy and will also give E.ON and Electrabel hands-on experience of CO2 capture.

The three partners have declined to comment on the level of investment that will be made in the project.

Hitachi will be responsible for the design, set-up and operation of a pilot test facility, which will be able to treat up to 5000 Nm3/h of flue gas. The facility will be installed at E.ON and Electrabel power plant sites over a four-year period beginning in 2009.

The operation of the test facility under real conditions and at relatively large scale will provide reliable data as well as enable technology scale-up, say the project partners, who have yet to decide where the facility will initially be situated.

The pilot installation will be able to move to locations in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium or other European countries and will operate for periods of between 12 and 24 months.

Hitachi says that it will use the experience from the pilot plant to develop a larger demonstration plant in its efforts to commercialize the technology.

E.ON is currently involved in 44 carbon capture and storage (CCS)-related projects and is intending to halve its specific CO2/kWh emissions by 2030 from 1990 levels. Electrabel is already one of the best-in-class electricity utilities for CO2/kWh emissions.