UK funding for marine carbon capture study

The <i>Victoria of Wight</i> ferry forms one of the case studies for the UK-funded study (picture courtesy Wightlink)The Victoria of Wight ferry forms one of the case studies for the UK-funded study (picture courtesy Wightlink)

Houlder, the design and engineering consultancy, has begun work on a six-month study to evaluate the potential marine applications of a British carbon capture technology.

The technology developer, PMW Technology, received funding from the UK Government’s Transport-Technology Research Innovation Grant (T-TRIG). With funding from T-TRIG, the study will evaluate the feasibility, costs, infrastructure, impacts, and potential benefits of using advanced carbon capture technology to decarbonise marine shipping.

PMW Technology’s A3C carbon capture process is designed to extract carbon dioxide from marine exhaust gases by freezing, then subliming the carbon dioxide. It is then liquified and stored in dedicated tanks onboard, allowing for carbon capture from vessel emissions without radical technical overhauls of marine engines and fuels.

With extensive experience in marine engineering and vessel design & specification, Houlder consults on key variables within the study to assess the operational viability of the technology and its potential application for shipping.

Commenting on the partnership Rupert Hare, CEO of Houlder, said: “We’re pleased to be working with PMW Technology and its partners on this study and look forward to sharing our learnings upon its completion, for the benefit of all of those transforming industries that stand to benefit from advancements in carbon capture.

“In the technology sector in particular, there is rapidly growing interest across the marine and energy sectors for cleaner technologies to accelerate the drive towards a zero-carbon future. The appetite for technology creates fertile ground for start-ups, and we relish the opportunity to share our 30 years’ expertise with our entrepreneurial partners and guide their projects through feasibility testing and to operational reality.”

One of the key obstacles to the introduction of carbon capture technology is the cost of the process itself. The A3C process, which uses a recirculating cryogenic steel bead system to solidify carbon dioxide from exhaust gases before capturing it when it sublimes at -80 degrees, to achieve 70% reduction in the cost of capturing carbon dioxide compared with existing technologies.

The implementation of carbon capture technologies aboard larger deep-sea vessels faces significant storage constraints, and would be likely to reduce operational ranges and cargo capacity. As such, smaller short-sea vessels may represent a more likely market for application. The development of discharge and storage facilities for CO2 would also require some further investment, owing to the gas’s toxicity, and the need to avoid contamination with water.

The solution itself offers greater advantages for so-called ‘hard to abate’ heavy industry, such as cement producers or metal producers, where nascent processes to produce low-carbon steel or aluminium remain uncompetitive.

The Motorship examined some of the issues around the storage and transport of carbon dioxide in a December 2020 feature.

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