From CO2 capture
Global warming, also known as the greenhouse effect, is a worldwide problem that has significant consequences for life on earth. The emission of CO2 is the principle cause of the greenhouse effect. That’s why it is so important to reduce CO2 emissions. CO2 capture offers a good solution for this. Nuon has started a pilot programme for CO2 capture at the gasification power plant in Limburg.
Energy is generated principally with fossil fuels such as natural gas, oil and coal. Combustion of these releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. One of these gases is carbon dioxide - CO2 – a natural, odourless and invisible gas. People and animals also produce CO2 when breathing out. Plants, trees and oceans absorb it and turn CO2 into oxygen.
CO2 is not harmful as long as the natural balance is maintained, but when too much CO2 gets into the atmosphere, a greenhouse problem arises that has a negative effect on life on earth. Every year cars, industry and power plants emit around 25 billion tons of CO2. That is equivalent to five times the exhaust emissions of all the cars driving on this planet.
Fewer CO2 emissions through CO2 capture
In the years ahead the demand for energy will grow worldwide. However sustainable we produce, even in 2020 we will still be 80% dependent on oil, gas and coal. So we have to find cleaner alternatives: CO2 capture is one such alternative.
CO2 capture pilot programme in Buggenum
At the Willem-Alexander power plant in Buggenum Nuon is starting a pilot programme of CO2 capture. CO2 capture has been used for over 50 years in the petrochemical industry. Nuon’s aim is to make CO2 capture suitable for the energy sector and to optimise the process.
The Willem-Alexander power plant uses what is known as gasification technology. This makes it the ideal location to test pre-combustion CO2 capture.
The process of CO2 capture
In gasification the coal is first transformed into gas (syngas), which is cleaned and then used to generate electricity. The syngas comprises mainly the combustible components H2 and CO. It is relatively easy and efficient to remove CO2 from the syngas with a so-called CO shift.
By adding steam (H2O) to the syngas, a chemical reaction (H2O + CO = H2 + CO2) takes place in a catalytic converter. This gives rise to a syngas with more H2 and CO2. About 90% of the CO2 is then separated with a washing solvent.
With this pilot programme Nuon gains knowledge to reduce the emission of CO2 significant. This knowledge can then be used at the new Nuon Magnum power plant at Eemshaven in the province of Groningen.