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Calcium looping with inherent energy storage for decarbonisation of coal-fired power plant

Dawid Hanak's picture
Associate Professor in Energy and Process Engineering Cranfield University

I'm a climate warrior who believes that achieving our climate commitments requires immediate action. We can do this by deploying green energy technologies and building world-leading engineering...

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  • Dec 8, 2020
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Why do we need to look at a big picture when driving innovation in our specific research area?

When I was doing my PhD, I focused on an application of calcium looping for CO2 capture from fossil fuel power plants.

That's a rather simple process based on a following reversible reaction:

Carbonation (600-650ºC) CO2 + CaO = CaCO3
Calcination (>900ºC) CaCO3 = CO2 + CaO

But when I researched broader applications of calcium looping, I realised that it was also proposed for energy storage in solar power plants.

The attached paper was published in Energy and Environmental Science and explores the benefits of combining both applications of calcium looping.

I encourage you to look at a bigger picture in your research - you never know what you can come up with!

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Dec 8, 2020

I encourage you to look at a bigger picture in your research - you never know what you can come up with!

Wise words! Has anything commercially available yet come from the calcium looping research? 

Roger Arnold's picture
Roger Arnold on Dec 9, 2020

The CaL-HYD process the Dr. Hanak et. al. detail in their Energy and Environmental Sciences paper makes a lot of sense to me. It looks definitely superior to amine solution-based flue gas scrubbing for post-combustion cleanup of coal-fired power plants. If it can truly operate profitably at the calculted carbon price of 8.3€/tCO2, then it deserves to be deployed. Especially in the many new coal-fired plants that are expected to be built in developing nations over the next few decades.

On the other hand, there's not a lot of support for clean coal these days within the clean energy community. I'd be surprised to see the process win funding for commercial deployment.

What I really find intriguing, however, is something that Dr. Hanak alludes to, but that isn't really addressed in the E&ES paper. That's the idea of using the calcination reaction for a kind of bulk energy storage "battery".  Concentrated solar thermal energy can decompose CaCO3 into CaO and CO2 at very high efficiency. Both CaO and CO2 can be stored at low cost over long periods of time. Then when needed, they can be recombined to produce high grade heat for power generation.

The energy density for the carbonation reaction is good. I suspect that the economics and environmental footprint for this approach to long term energy storage would be superior to green hydrogen. But in that case, why haven't I heard it advanced before? And why didn't I think of such an obvious approach myself?  I'm probably missing something, but don't know what. 

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