CCRC Researchers are Developing Cryogenic Technology that can Freeze Carbon from the Point of Emission

22 September, 2021

Photo featuring the CCC test rig at KAUST by Cedric Ghoussoub

Article by Raheena Abdurehim

The Clean Combustion Research Center at KAUST is developing Cryogenic Carbon Capture technology in collaboration with Sustainable Energy Solutions LLC (USA) as a part of the Near Term Grand Challenge. This technology can capture (remove) CO2 from the exhaust gases of a fossil power plant or an industrial plant (e.g., cement) or any process that releases CO2 in the exhaust. The captured CO2 has >99.99% purity and can be used in most industrial applications.  

CO2 is captured by cooling the exhaust gases below -130 C using a highly efficient heat transfer system that involves a dryer, a recuperator, and a desublimating heat exchanger, where the CO2 is frozen (solidified) and separated from the rest of the gas (that is now clean). An integrated refrigeration system provides the cooling required for desublimation. 

The technology has been demonstrated extensively at a 1 tonne per day CO2 capture rate by SES in the US and was tested recently at KAUST (Q4'20-Q1'21). The demonstration at KAUST was witnessed by industry representatives (Saudi Aramco, NEOM, Air Products, etc.).  In June 2021, Pre-FEED (Pre-Front End Engineering Design) study of a 30 tonne/day CO2 capture commercial-scale system was completed successfully for deployment at the Integrated Solar Combined Cycle plant at Duba. 

Pictures above - delegates from Saudi Aramco visiting the site in 2021. Photo by Raheena Abdurehim

The Circular Carbon Economy-National Program, an initiative from the Ministry of Energy, is actively looking at the commercialization of the CCC technology in the Kingdom.

"We are excited to bring this novel technology to the Kingdom as an essential part of scalable, cost-effective, and near term solutions to mitigating climate change by capturing CO2 emissions (as well as other criteria air pollutants if they are present) from the power generation and industrial processing sectors. The 30 tonne per day system being proposed at Duba Green Powerplant would be the largest demonstration of cryogenic carbon capture in the world and would pave the way for deployment at scales greater than 1 million tonnes/year, where the technology is less costly than any existing alternative." Said Dr. William L. Roberts, Director, Clean Combustion Research Center.

Latest developmental Update

The team is currently developing a trailer-mounted CCC skid that can be easily transported to different test sites in the Kingdom. This skid will also have the capability onboard to handle other pollutants such as SOx and NOx and will be optimized for operation in the Kingdom. 

The pilot testing of this skid will be carried out in 2022 at the Rabigh HFO power plant (owned by Saudi Electric Company). This skid will serve as an active bench to develop and test KAUST IP. KAUST researchers are currently working on a novel direct contact heat exchanger design.


Learn more about this research here.