The Research Centre for Carbon Solutions (RCCS) has partnered with OGTC and a consortium made up of CO2CirculAir B.V, Process Design Center and Optimus to deliver a sustainable membrane absorption and regeneration technology for direct air capture (SMART-DAC). Funding for Phase one of the project was received from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as part of its Direct Air Capture and Greenhouse Gas Removal Innovation programme.
The SMART-DAC system will deliver a cost-effective process for CO2 capture from air using membrane gas absorption (MGA) and membrane electrolysis regeneration.
The system can be powered with green energy (wind or solar), providing a sustainable and zero emissions solution for CO2 capture. A DAC pilot unit with a capacity of at least 100-ton CO2/year will be designed to be further used by operating a fully continuous process, using cost-effective synthetic or natural materials, wind for circulation of air and modest levels of electricity for regeneration of the absorption liquid.
Dr Susana Garcia, RCCS Associate Director on Carbon Capture and Storage, who leads the Heriot-Watt team in the project said: “In addition to substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, we need to remove a large amount of CO2 from the atmosphere to meet agreed climate targets. The SMART-DAC technology has the potential to drastically reduce the cost of DAC processes whilst allowing for scalability and flexibility of operation. DAC is not only required to reduce CO2 from the atmosphere, when coupled with permanent CO2 storage, but it also enables to create a truly circular economy. Most of the products we consume and use on a daily basis contain carbon derived from fossil fuels; with affordable DAC technologies we can make use of the carbon that is in the air as the feedstock for the chemical industry.
“As part of the consortium, we will contribute to the UK government’s efforts on driving innovation activities that help to achieve CO2 removal at significant scale. This project exemplifies Heriot-Watt’s commitment to a sustainable future and our close collaboration with industry and government to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative CO2 removal technologies.”
The proposed process will be significantly cheaper than current technologies and is anticipated to capture CO₂ from air at a price below £100/tonne CO₂.
Dr Vinay Mulgundmath, Chief Technologist at OGTC, said: “DAC and greenhouse gas removal technologies have been identified by UK Government as a specific area where the UK can lead and seek to become world leaders in the design, build, implementation and eventual export of expertise and tech.
“We are glad to be part of such an innovative project and working with a world-class consortium to deliver a key technology to ensure we meet our net zero targets.”
Jeffrey Felix, Managing Director at CO2CirculAir BV, commented on the project: “DAC technologies will play a key role in delivering our net zero objectives. Our combined efforts will enable us to deliver a game changing technology for a new industry or even better for society as a whole– whilst ensuring sustainability and renewable energies are considered throughout.
“We are delighted to be partnering with a leading mix of industry, academia and the government to drive development of our technology.”