Siemens achieves breakthrough with CO2 reduction technology

Siemens Energy has successfully completed the first test phase with its CO2 capture process in a pilot facility at the Staudinger power plant operated by E.ON. With its innovative and particularly ecofriendly process the company is setting new benchmarks in CO2 capture in fossil-fueled power plants. Process efficiency, the long-term chemical stability of the scrubbing agent and emissions were investigated in the pilot facility under real power plant conditions.

After over 3,000 operating hours since commissioning of the facility in September 2009, it has been demonstrated that the post-combustion capture process developed by Siemens (PostCap) attains a CO2 capture efficiency of over 90 percent with practically zero solvent emissions. The energy consumption is significantly lower than comparable conventional processes.

The test results confirm the expectations of the Siemens engineers. The high level of stability of the solvent and the extremely low losses will have a positive impact on the operating costs of CO2 capture facilities. Since the scrubbing agent, an aqueous amino acid salt solution, is non-volatile, there are practically no solvent emissions at the outlet of the capture facility.

By contrast with conventional CO2 capture processes, such as those using amines, the Siemens PostCap process does not require any complex downstream scrubbing of the flue gas after CO2 capture. In addition to CO2, the solvent also removes further contaminants contained in the flue gas. These contaminants additionally absorbed by the solvent and any by-products produced will in the future be removed from the liquid solution using an innovative separation process.

“For us a major requirement made on our process is to produce no new emissions during CO2 capture and to provide simple handling for power plant operators. From the very outset we’ve therefore been using aqueous solutions of amino acid salts as the scrubbing agent, which does not represent a hazard for humans or the environment,” said Nicolas Vortmeyer, CEO for New Technologies Fossil Power Generation at Siemens Energy. “Setting the course at an early stage is now paying off. We’ve confirmed with the first operating results at our pilot facility that our CO2 capture process is not only highly efficient but also meets the most stringent requirements on environmental compatibility without additional downstream scrubbing. We will continue pilot plant operation in order to gain further expertise.”

The pilot project at Staudinger power plant is sponsored by E.ON and the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology within the framework of the COORETEC Initiative. This initiative is part of the federal government’s 5th Energy Research Program entitled “Innovation and New Energy Technologies” and promotes research into and the development of low-CO2-emissions power plant technologies.

The experience accumulated with the pilot facility in the Staudinger power plant provides the basis for an anticipated larger-scale deployment of the PostCap process which is proposed to be performed at the Big Bend coal-fired plant operated by Tampa Electric under an award to Siemens Energy, Inc. by the United States Department of Energy to further advance this state-of-the-art carbon capture process for coal-fired power plants.

The technology for CO2 capture from the flue gas of power plants is part of Siemens’ Environmental Portfolio. In fiscal 2010, revenue from the Portfolio totaled about €28 billion, making Siemens the world’s largest supplier of ecofriendly technologies. In the same period, our products and solutions enabled customers to reduce their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 270 million tons, an amount equal to the total annual CO2 emissions of the megacities Hong Kong, London, New York, Tokyo, Delhi and Singapore.

The Siemens Energy Sector is the world’s leading supplier of a complete spectrum of products, services and solutions for the generation, transmission and distribution of power and for the extraction, conversion and transport of oil and gas. In fiscal 2010 (ended September 30), the Energy Sector had revenues of approximately EUR25.5 billion and received new orders totaling more than EUR30.1 billion and posted a profit of more than EUR3.6 billion. On September 30, 2010, the Energy Sector had a work force of more than 88,000.

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