Energy Storage & CO2 Capture Pilot Plant Development
Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering, University College Dublin
Energy is one of the world’s most valuable resources, and yet it is one of its greatest challenges. The majority of the world's electrical energy is currently generated by the burning of fossil fuels. However dwindling supplies of such fuels coupled with increasing awareness of the detrimental impact of emissions associated with power generation are leading to a global focus on renewable energy production and approaches to dealing with CO2 emissions.
While many renewable energy technologies have been developed across the world, one of the primary difficulties associated with these alternative sources is the sinusoidal nature of their output. This fluctuating output is inherently linked to weather conditions, and hence wind, solar and other forms of sustainable energy production are typically coupled with traditional fossil fuel energy sources to provide increased stability and more predictable power outputs. Energy storage may be used to overcome this difficulty. The sinusoidal nature of a renewable energy source may be eliminated if its fluctuating power output is passed through an energy storage device prior to entering the grid.
The frightening reality is currently however that significant levels of CO2 are being emitted from plants all across the world running on fossil fuels. The average power plant in Ireland emits 22.5 kilograms of CO2 every second. As a conversion to clean and renewable energy will take time, it is important to be able to bridge the gap between a long term, all renewable energy future, and the current fossil fuel dominated reality while halting the detrimental impact such emissions are having on the environment. To achieve this, CO2 capture (from industrial flue stacks) must play a central role in order to address the increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Figure 1 – Operation of the thermodynamic system being constructed as part of this post
This project aims to address two of the world’s major energy problems at once, namely the storage of renewable energy in order to make it available upon demand, and the capture of carbon dioxide from industrial flue gas emissions. As illustrated in Figure 1, the thermodynamic cycle which will be developed, constructed, operated and tested by the successful application as part of this job, takes both the flue gases from industrial fossil fuel burning plants and fluctuating energy supplies from renewable energy sources (such as wind farms or solar energy plants) and provides two highly valuable outputs. The first of these is a stable energy supply to the grid, while the second of these is CO2 which has been stripped from the flue gas emissions.
This post has been funded to support the potential commercialisation activities of this cycle. The objective of this 15 month engagement is therefore to continue work on the design of this system, to establish models of its operation, and to ultimately construct and operate the pilot plant demonstrating the potential to bring this system to commercial development.
The successful applicant will be the main researcher on this project on a day to day basis, and will focus upon aspects of:
• System design
• First principles and advanced model development
• Pilot plant construction and operation
• Results dissemination
A mechanical or chemical engineer is sought whose PhD and previous employment experience demonstrates an ability to carry out advanced modelling work and experimental system construction/operation.