Successful demo readies ION for broad scale deployment of carbon capture technologies

The CO2 Technology Centre Mongstad is the largest carbon capture test facility in the world. ION Engineering is the first U.S. company to have tested its capture technology at the centre. Image: ION Engineering

Carbon capture technology company ION Engineering has completed a six-month demonstration of its carbon capture system at the CO2 Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM) in Norway, putting it on course for commercial demonstration in late-2017.

During the TCM campaign, ION conducted over 150 individual experiments, testing its system on residue fluid catalytic cracker (RFCC) gas from Statoil's refinery, which closely resembles the CO2 concentration of the flue gas produced in coal-fired power plants.

It also tested on flue gas from TCM's combined heat and power (CHP) plant, which is fuelled by natural gas. To date, ION is the only U.S. company to have successfully tested its capture technology on RFCC gas at TCM.

ION's proprietary Advanced Liquid Absorbent System (ALAS) is comprised of a liquid absorbent, process technology and the company's newest analytical technology, a Multicomponent Liquid Analyzer (MLA), capable of near-real-time compositional analysis of the liquid absorbent.

The Boulder, Colorado-based company's ALAS campaign successfully captured over 90 per cent of the CO2 during steady-state testing from both the refinery and natural gas-fired flue gases with CO2 product purity of greater than 99 per cent.

ION's ALAS consistently exceeded expectations from its predictive modelling, the company said. On the CHP flue gas, the ALAS required significantly less energy when compared with the industry-standard 30 per cent MEA solvent previously tested at TCM—and with minimal solvent loss and emissions.

ION also conducted the first successful field tests of two of its MLA devices and validated their performance when compared to traditional wet laboratory analyses. By the end of the campaign, ION had captured over 14,000 tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of removing nearly 3,000 vehicles from the road.

The successful technology demonstration puts the company in a leading position for broad scale deployment of carbon capture technologies on a global basis, said ION, which now targets commercial demonstration of its technology starting in late-2017.

According to ION's chief technology officer Erik Meuleman, "The TCM campaign has proven that ION's Advanced Liquid Absorption System is capable of successfully capturing over 90 per cent of CO2 from refinery flue gas and natural gas, with low emissions and energy requirements.

"Our technical team installed, tested and verified the operation of our breakthrough MLAs. The analyzers are a total game changer, providing near real-time composition analysis of the liquid absorbent, which streamlines the operation of the entire plant and reduces operating costs," Meuleman said in a statement.

“We now feel extremely comfortable designing and building commercial CO2 capture plants utilizing our Advanced Liquid Absorption System," added Buz Brown, ION chief executive officer.

Funding for ION's multi-phase project, over $25 million in total, was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy's NETL, with significant in-kind contributions from TCM. The first phase of the project was conducted at the National Carbon Capture Center in Wilsonville, Alabama, where ION successfully demonstrated its capture system on coal-fired flue gas.