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type     January, 2009

Performance of sorption-enhanced water-gas shift as a pre-combustion CO2 capture technology

E.R. van Selow, P.D. Cobden, R.W. van den Brink, J.R. Hufton, A. Wright

The sorption-enhanced water-gas shift (SEWGS) process is a promising technology for pre-combustion decarbonisation. It is well suited for decarbonising syngas produced from natural-gas and coal based fuels in combined-cycle power production schemes. Higher capture rates could be obtained by SEWGS at lower efficiency penalties and at lower costs than by absorption. In the SEWGS process, multiple reactor vessels are packed with mixtures of CO2 sorption pellets and water-gas shift catalyst pellets. The technology is developed using potassium promoted hydrotalcite-based materials as the CO2 sorbent. In a first series of experiments, the performance of this material is investigated under typical SEWGS process conditions. The sorbent was loaded in 2 m and 6 m tall fixed-bed reactor vessels. Breakthrough capacities of 1.3 – 1.4 mmol/g are reported. After breakthrough the sorbent continues to take up CO2, albeit at a much lower rate. Total sorption capacities exceeding 8 mmol/g are observed. This capacity is attributed to the formation of MgCO3 in the bulk of the sorbent material and requires moderate to high partial pressures of CO2 and steam. The stability of the sorbent material during cyclic operation was demonstrated for more than 4,000 adsorption and desorption cycles. A stable and low slip of CO2 was established, corresponding to a carbon capture ratio of well above 90%. After investigation of the relevant sorbent characteristics, the reactor was loaded with sorbent and catalyst material in order to provide a proof-of-principle of the SEWGS technology and establish the performance and stability of sorbent and catalyst material. When the reactor was fed with a gas mixture that simulated a syngas typically produced by auto-thermal reforming of natural gas, it was demonstrated that carbon monoxide conversion can be enhanced from 55% in absence of a sorbent to 100% in the presence of a sorbent. Neither the change of gas composition nor the mixing of sorbent with catalyst did significantly impact CO2 breakthrough capacity. In a cyclic duration test, the carbon capture rate and carbon monoxide conversion were confirmed to be above 98% without excessive steam demand, and reasonably stable for at least 500 cycles. The experimental data will be used for modelling, cycle optimization, and scale-up to a pilot unit.

© 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: sorption-enhanced, hydrotalcites, water-gas shift reaction, pressure swing adsorption, pre-combustion capture, decarbonization, power plants, hydrogen production.

Source: Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies (GHGT) conference, 16-20 November 2008

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