A pilot project covered by Siemens and E.ON has shown that emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from any power plants can be effectively captured in projects they have demonstrated. More than 90% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) was captured from a part of the flue gas at the Staudinger coal-fired power plant near Hanau, Germany.
The results of the pilot project, which has been running since 2009, allow to plan further demonstration projects and calculate the investment and operating costs.
It was also shown that the flue gas scrubbing process doesn’t reduce the plant’s efficiency to the extent that had been expected and that the Siemens PostCap process produces nearly no emissions.
Separation of CO2 from power plant exhaust gases is one of the ways in which plants that run on fossil fuels can help protect the climate. The CO2 is removed from the flue gas by means of Siemens’ post-combustion process.
The carbon dioxide is captured with a special scrubbing agent consisting of an amino acid salt solution. These acids occur in nature and aren’t harmful to the environment. The aqueous amino acid salt solution is almost completely non-volatile, so it generates practically no solvent emissions. Unlike previous processes, the new method doesn’t require extensive cleaning of the flue gas after the carbon dioxide is captured. What’s more, the scrubbing agent removes other pollutants in the flue gas besides CO2 and can be repeatedly reused.
In addition to being very environmentally friendly, the process — which is called PostCap — is also energy efficient. Thanks to improvements to the process made by the experts at Siemens Energy, the power plant’s efficiency is only reduced by about six percentage points. That’s far less than was expected: Previous estimates had indicated a loss of about ten percentage points.
The Siemens process is suited for new power plants using fossil fuels and for retrofitting existing power stations. Siemens has a comprehensive, technologically optimized solution package for CO2 capture. This technology is part of the Siemens environmental portfolio, which generated around €28 billion in sales for the company in fiscal year 2010.