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Flownex Applications on Carbon Capture and

Storage Technologies

1. Background .................................................................................................... 2

2. CO2 Capture.................................................................................................... 2

1. Post-Combustion Capture ............................................................................. 2

2. Pre-Combustion Capture ............................................................................... 3
3. Oxy-fuel Combustion ..................................................................................... 4

3. CO2 Transport ................................................................................................ 5

4. CO2 Storage .................................................................................................... 7

1. Background
It is widely accepted that the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations, caused by the release
of large amount of this gas into the atmosphere during energy production through the burning
of fossil fuels, adds to a slow rise in global temperatures. The temperature rise is caused
when heat from the sun is trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gasses, of which CO2
is one.

In order to minimize humanitys contribution to the heightened greenhouse effect, it is

proposed that CO2 be captured (mainly at large point sources, but also from the atmosphere)
and stored where it will not have an impact on the environment. This technology is known as
Carbon Capture and Storage/Sequestration (CCS).

2. CO2 Capture
Since CO2 is one of the main products of combustion, it is inherent to all energy production
processes using fossil fuels as feedstock. The most economical way to prevent this gas from
escaping into the atmosphere, is to captured it at the point where it is generated, namely the
power plant. The most common methods of capturing CO2 at the source is discussed in the
following paragraphs.

1. Post-Combustion Capture
When fossil fuel is combusted in air in a power plant boiler, the carbon in the fuel reacts with
oxygen in the air to form CO2, releasing useful energy in the form of heat. This CO2, mixed
with nitrogen, water vapor, sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides, constitutes the flue gasses, of
which CO2 is usually 15-20%. In power plants without CCS, the flue gasses are vented to

Post-combustion capture of CO2 involves removing the CO2 from the flue gasses after
combustion has taken place. This process is able to remove 80-90% of the CO2 from the
flue gasses and can be retrofitted onto existing power plants.

Figure 1 shows a process flow diagram for a typical post-combustion capture process. Flue
gasses from the boiler is cooled and blown into the scrubber after it has passed through a
catalytic reactor and an electrostatic precipitator. As the flue gasses flows upwards through
the scrubber, it comes into contact with an aqueous amine solution which is dripping down
through the packing in the column. The CO2 in the flue gas dissolves in the solution and
reacts reversibly with the amines (usually monoethanolamine (MEA)). In this manner, the
flue gasses is selectively cleaned of CO2 and after leaving the scrubber, is vented to

After leaving the scrubber, the CO2 rich amine solution is pumped through a heat exchanger
where it is pre-heated by the CO2 lean amine solution flowing back to the scrubber. The
heated, rich solution then flows into another column called the stripper. Here the solution is
heated, using steam bled of from the turbines, which releases the CO2 out of the solution as
a gas. Progressively more CO2 is released as the solution flows down the column, until the
last stripping occurs in the reboiler. From here, the lean CO 2 solution flows back to the
scrubber through the heat exchanger.
Cooling Water


Flue Gas
CO2 Rich Solution
CO2 Lean Solution
Condensate Compressor

Heat Stripper/
Exchanger Re-

Gas Fan
/ Liquid CO2
to Storage
Flue Gas
from Boiler Steam

Cooling Water
Figure 1: Typical post-combustion CO2 scrubber process flow diagram.

The CO2, saturated with water, leaves the stripper at the top. It then flows through a
condenser that condenses the water vapor into liquid form which flows back to the stripper.
The CO2 is then compressed to high pressure (about 100atm) under which it is transported to
a suitable storage site. The condensing and compression may be carried out in a number of
alternating stages to increase efficiency.

Flownex can model the fluid flow and heat transfer in a post-combustion capture system.
The heat transfer under various load conditions can be modeled in the rich/lean heat
exchanger, reboiler, gas cooler and condensers.

Flownex can be used to simulate flue gas cooling and blowing capacities during transients
caused by the variable load on the power station.

Flownex can also model and simulate the condensing and compression stages at the end of
the the carbon capture system..

2. Pre-Combustion Capture
With pre-combustion carbon capture, the CO2 is removed from the fuel prior to combustion.
This is achieved by heating the fuel (usually pulverized coal) in an oxygen deprived
atmosphere in the presence of moisture. This causes the carbon to gasify into carbon
monoxide and hydrogen. These gasses are then passed to a catalytic reactor where it
undergoes the so called water-gas shift reaction, during which the CO reacts with water to
from CO2 and more hydrogen. The CO2 is the separated from the hydrogen and compressed
for transport and storage, while the hydrogen is usually diluted with nitrogen and combusted
in a gas turbine. The waste heat from the turbine exhaust is usually used to generate steam
to power an additional steam turbine. Such a power plant is called an Integrated Gasification
Combined Cycle (IGCC). A schematic representation of such a plant is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: IGCC plant showing pre-combustion capture.

Pre-combustion capture seems to be less expensive than post-combustion capture, at

present. However, pre-combustion capture cannot be implemented on existing power
stations and has not been proven commercially yet.

Flownex can be used to model the temperature distribution in the insulation and water wall of
the gasification reactor, under steady state operation as well as under transient conditions
(such as start-ups and shut-downs) and under abnormal operating conditions (accident

Flownex can also simulate the operation of all pumps, compressors and turbines, using the
performance information of each individual machine to determine the operating conditions
during various transient operations.

Using Flownex, the flow distribution through the entire plant can be modeled and monitored.
This can help plant operators and engineers to determine whether enough of each process
input (fuel, steam, oxygen, etc.) will be available under all operating conditions.

The compression and pipeline transport of CO2 can be modeled dynamically in Flownex.

Flownex can further be used to model many other systems, such as cooling water,
compressed air, lubrication systems etc. It can be used to conduct feasibility studies on
proposed plant changes and improvements to quantify the effects that such changes will
have on the overall system performance.

3. Oxy-fuel Combustion
Oxy-fuel combustion is another method of significantly reducing the CO2 emissions of a coal
burning plant. This method involves combusting the pulverized coal in pure oxygen, instead
of in the usual air environment. Combustion in oxygen means that the flue gasses consists
mainly of CO2, which only has to be cleaned from solid particles, sulfur and water vapor to
create a pure stream of CO2 that is ready to be stored in an appropriate location. A graphical
representation of this process is shown if Figure 3.

Figure 3: Oxy-fuel combustion process.

Oxy-fuel combustion are being studied extensively for potential retrofit applications on
existing pulverized coal burning plants. Since the boilers of these plants are optimized for
the large flue gas flows associated with air combustion, a large percentage of the flue
gasses, when using oxy-fuel combustion, have to be recycled back to the boiler. This is
necessary to create heat transfer effects similar to those obtained in an air combustion boiler,
since combustion in oxygen produces about 70% less flue gasses than air combustion.
Some researchers suggest that it would be more beneficial to design and build new power
plants with boilers optimized for oxy-fuel combustion.

Another problem associated with oxy-fuel combustion is the large amount of energy
necessary for the cryogenic separation of oxygen from air. This energy could amount to up
to 20% of the electricity output of the power plant. Research into more efficient and less
energy consuming processes to separate oxygen from air is ongoing.

Flownex can be used to model the heat transfer flow distribution in the air separation
processes. Flownex is also ideally suited to study the flow balances involved with the use of
a flue gas recycling system.

Flownex can be used to model the condensation of water vapor from the CO 2 stream, as well
as for the compression and cooling of the CO2 product stream.

3. CO2 Transport
Even though CO2 can be transported under low pressure and low temperature in insulated
tanker ships or trucks, the most practical and economical method is high pressure
transportation in pipelines. This method of CO2 transport is well understood and has been
used since the 1970s, mostly in the Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) industry, where CO2 is
injected into oil fields to increase oil yield. The US alone, at this stage, has an estimated
3000km of CO2 pipelines, transporting CO2 from natural underground reservoirs, natural gas
refineries and other industries.

In CO2 pipelines, the fluid is usually transported at ambient temperature, at supercritical

pressures (about 7MPa) in order to avoid the two-phase region. Flow is normally driven by
compressors situated at the upstream end of the pipeline, but sometimes intermediate
booster compressors are also used along the length of the pipeline. Figure 4 shows some
typical gas pipeline components.

Figure 4: Typical gas pipeline, compressor and valves.

When low volumes or long distances are involved for offshore CO2 storage, carrier ships may
be a feasible alternative to pipelines. Here CO2 is cooled (-52C) and slightly pressurized
(about 6bar) before loading onto the ship. Insulated tanks in the ship ensure that the CO 2
remains in this state. The ship then sails to an injection platform where the CO 2 is unloaded
and injected into a storage location. CO2 carrier ships are envisioned to be very similar to
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) carrier ships, such as the ones shown in Figure 5 and Figure 6.
Figure 5: Side section view of a LNG carrier ship.

Figure 6: LNG carrier ship.

Flownex can be utilized very effectively in the CO2 transport industry. Pipeline networks,
including pipeline sections, compressor stations and valve stations can be modeled using
Flownex. Such a model can help engineers to conduct feasibility studies on planned network
improvements or changes, investigate accident or abnormal scenarios such as valve
malfunctions or pipe breaches and study different ways of improving the overall performance
and operation of the pipeline.

Flownex can also be used to conduct studies on ship transport systems, especially on the
gas cooling, loading and unloading systems. Flownex can be used to investigate and
optimize the flow at the start and end of loading and unloading procedures during which
transients are present.

4. CO2 Storage
It is proposed that CO2, captured from fossil fuel power stations, can be kept out of the
atmosphere by storing it in underground reservoirs for very long time periods. These
reservoirs can be saline aquifers, spent natural gas or oil fields, unmineable coal seams,
basalts or cavities. Since CO2 will tend to rise after it has been injected into a reservoir, a
layer of hard, impermeable rock (called cap rock) must be located above the reservoir to stop
die CO2 from reaching shallower formations and the surface. Reservoirs should also be at
least 800m below ground, since the prevailing pressures at these depths will keep the CO 2 in
liquid or supercritical state.

It has also been proposed that CO2 be stored deep in the ocean. Several approaches exist:
Dissolution: CO2 is injected into the ocean at about 1000m, where it dissolves in the
CO2 Lake: The CO2 is injected directly onto the ocean floor in low lying areas where
it is expected to form a lake. This method hopes to slow down the rate at which CO 2
dissolves in the water.
Chemical Conversion: CO2 is converted into bicarbonate or clathrate hydrates and
deposited on the ocean floor.

The downside of deep ocean sequestration is that the stored CO2 will kill any organism that
lives in that area. Even though the density of life at these depths is relatively low, the impact
of large concentrations of CO2 is not fully understood yet. Also, a part of the CO2 dissolving
in the water will form H2CO3 or carbonic acid, which will increase the acidity of the ocean.
The impact that this will have on the deep ocean regions and the ocean in general is not
understood well. Thus, deep ocean sequestration is not generally seen as a viable option for
CO2 storage anymore.

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