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Promising new technology for gas power plants

December 1, 2003, 09:00 CET

Pioneering technology that is currently being developed by Hydro's engineers in the Research Park in Porsgrunn can breathe new life in the work on handling CO2 emissions from gas power plants in the future.

PIONEERING: Hydro's ceramic membrane concept can be used to collect CO2 in a cheaper and better way than present technology.


"We are concerned about climate problems," says Jørgen Rostrup, head of the renewables and hydrogen unit in Hydro. "But we also know that natural gas is a very important source of energy, both for the company and for the whole of Norway. Technological developments in CO2 handling will add even more value to natural gas."

The natural gas burnt in a gas power plant is made up of hydrocarbons, i.e. hydrogen and carbon. Under normal combustion, the carbon will attach to oxygen from the air and form CO2, which is released into the atmosphere.

However, Hydro has launched the concept of ceramic membranes that selectively release only oxygen. The principle, which has been developed through the EU-financed AZEP (Advanced Zero Emission Power) project, makes it possible to collect CO2 before it is emitted in a cheaper and more efficient way than the present solutions.

Hydro's Research Centre in Porsgrunn has been assigned the task to further develop this idea. The research and development work behind these ceramics may also be of interest in other areas where gas is to be converted into new products. Hydro plans to set up a pilot plant in Grenland; construction will start next year.

"The aim is to demonstrate possible industrial applications of ceramics in both CO2 purification and hydrogen technology," says Jørgen Rostrup.  He underlines, however, all the same that there is great uncertainty connected with such technological leaps, and that the development will take several years.

An application for funding has been sent to the Research Council of Norway (NFR).

Hydro would also prefer that a major technological break through in the field of gas applications took place in close collaboration between industrial players and the authorities.

"In Norway, a state-owned innovation company for environmental gas technology would give the national focus needed to bring CO2 and hydrogen technology closer to commercialization and application. The Norwegian government and the Storting have recommended the establishment of such a company in Grenland, and Hydro gives its full support," concludes Jørgen Rostrup.