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New pre-combustion CCS plant enters DECC competition

A new pre-combustion carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration plant has been proposed for a site adjacent to the Alcan aluminium works at Lynemouth, Northumberland.

The 500MW proposal would use a pre-combustion technology to generate hydrogen and carbon dioxide by reacting coal with water. CO2 gas can then be removed before the hydrogen is used to generate power.

Rather than then burning the hydrogen to run turbines, this proposal would use the hydrogen to run fuel cells, which run at a high rate of efficiency of around 60%.

Developer B9 Coal propose using the hydrogen in alkaline fuel cells developed by AFC Energy to generate power, and would be the first large scale demonstration project to use alkaline fuel cell technology with CCS.

B9 Coal Director, Alisa Murphy said: “At a time when the government is expressing a desire to show global leadership on CCS, we are offering a project that has the potential to become a world-leading template.

“AFC Energy’s fuel cell technology provides us with the first commercially viable and scalable option. The partnership enables us to supply a hugely efficient energy generation process with no environmental impact, which is incredibly exciting for the UK.”

The plant would use underground coal gasification (UCG) to produce ‘syngas’, which is then processed to separate CO2 and hydrogen. 90% of the CO2 can be captured. The resulting hydrogen is passed through a fuel cell, with projected costs to be as low as 4p per kWh.

CEO of AFC Energy, Ian Balchin, said: “AFC Energy is delighted to be part of such an exciting project. It provides the UK with a genuine opportunity for enhanced energy security whilst meeting green energy demand from domestic coal reserves. Our fuel cell technology will allow the lowest possible unit cost electricity alongside hugely efficient power generation.”

Four CCS demonstration projects are planned, the first is to be a post-combustion project and government funded. Subsequent projects will be funded via a carbon capture levy.

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