Indian scientists have improved the CO2 absorbing solvent
The Indian Institute of Technology and the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) have created a special amine solvent consuming 31 percent less energy than the conventional monoethanolamine in the process of absorbing CO2. The development is under testing at the CO2 capture plant operated by the Energy Technology Research Alliance (NETRA) established by NTPC in 2009.

The CO2 solvent absorption may be illustrated by production of liquefied natural gas (LNG): the gas extracted from underground is pumped into a CO2 absorber containing monoethanolamine, a colourless, transparent liquid able to absorb carbon and sulfur-containing elements. The methane purified from impurities is fed from the absorber’s top to the gas liquefaction plant, and the liquid settling at the bottom heads to the CO2 stripping column where the carbon dioxide is separated from the impurities, using thermal energy. The Indian scientists’ development makes it possible to reduce consumption of this energy.

The innovation might find its application at coal-fired power plants, which account for 72 percent of India’s power generation (compared to 5 percent for gas plants and 23 percent for all other sources, according to the BP World Energy Survey). The installed capacity of the Indian coal-fired power plants increased between 2015 and 2021 by 21 percent, from 192 GW to 231.9 GW, according to the estimates of the Global Energy Monitor (GEM). The total capacity of the coal-fired power plants under construction in India in 2021 was 31.4 GW (18% of the global amount), and 23.9 GW (9%) – at the pre-investment stage. At the same time, the country is going to reduce harmful emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2070.

Capture, storage and transportation of CO2 (CCUS) is one of the dynamically developing branches of the “new” power industry. According to the data of the International Energy Agency (IEA), global investment in CCUS in 2021 increased to $600 million (against $170 million in 2020), However, in the coming years, their volume can multiply a number of times. For example, the Shell company plans to increase its own CO2 capture capacity from the current 4.5 million tons per year to 25 million tons per year in 2035, and the ExxonMobil, along with ten other companies, is going to build a CCUS-hub in Houston by 2030, with an annual capacity of 50 million tons and its subsequent increase to 100 million tons.


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April 2022