Imperial College London opens carbon capture plant
London – Imperial College London has officially opened a carbon capture pilot plant within the chemical engineering department at its central London campus.
The £2-million unit has been established in collaboration with ABB, which has supported about half of the investment. The move is part of a 10-year deal that commits the automation supplier to helping Imperial equip its students with the skills needed by industry in the future.
The 1.2-tonne/day unit features two 12-metre high columns to separate CO2 from flue gases. Its control room houses ABB’s ‘extended operator workplace’ (EOW) and 800xA DCS along with remote monitoring facilities that enable student operators to control and supervise the plant.
“The pilot plant contributes to making Imperial the leading international centre for practical, hands-on chemical engineering education and training,” said Dr. Daryl Williams, director of the pilot plant project at Imperial.
In return, ABB will have access to the carbon capture pilot plant for its own use and will use the facility for customer demonstrations and training, staff learning such as inter-divisional training, hands on experience for its apprentices and product testing and software evaluation.
“We will be able to trial new technology in a low risk, well-managed environment to gather beta site test data. It also gives ABB a great platform to train its staff and customers on a real pilot plant,” said Martin Grady, general manager, oil, gas and petrochemical, UK, ABB Ltd.
ABB’s involvement in the project is aimed at raising the awareness among chemical engineering graduates of the benefits of a career in control and instrumentation engineering, added Grady.
“One of our biggest problems is finding enough suitably qualified engineers to fill the ever growing range of opportunities we can offer,” he said. “The move by ABB is partly in response to government initiatives aimed at rebuilding the manufacturing base of the UK and re-establishing the important contribution that engineering makes to people’s everyday lives.
The pilot scale carbon capture plant was originally designed by Strata Technology and built by Tecno Project Industriale of Italy. It was installed and commissioned in conjunction with JMS and Charter Tech.
ABB supplied a range of equipment including instrumentation such as flow meters, level control equipment, pressure and temperature transmitters, positioners, paperless data recorders and analysers, plus variable-speed drives, motors, the EOW, and DCS.
To give students experience of a breadth of process technologies, the facility features a range of communication protocols including Foundation Fieldbus, Profibus DP and PA and Wireless Hart. There is, likewise, a wide range of metering technologies installed for monitoring parameters such as flow, temperature, pressure and level.
ABB is also using the pilot plant to trial a new ‘energy harvesting’ technology which can be integrated into wireless instrumentation. This uses temperature gradients – a 30°C difference is enough to power a device – within the process plant to extend battery life and/or allow the use of wireless in applications requiring higher update rates.
This approach is particularly suitable for brown field sites where additional process parameters may be required but retrofitting using conventionally powered instruments would be disruptive and expensive.