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Operational challenges of adsorbents from combustion residues

Investigation of Environmental and Operational Challenges of Adsorbents Synthesised from Industrial Grade Biomass Combustion Residues

The UK government is aiming towards a 78% greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2035 in order to keep the global temperature rise below the Paris Accord targets. Most mitigation scenarios that achieve these ambitious goals rely on BioEnergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), which plays a pivotal role in more than 85% of the pathways proposed by the International Panel on Climate Change. With the UK anticipating an increase in biomass combustion, the question of biomass waste minimisation and management is ever more pressing as evidenced by a recent UK government policy statement. Further, these biomass combustion products (BCPs) present a significant environmental (issues with secondary pollution) and economic burden, hindering widespread industrial deployment of BECCS.

Due to the specific properties of BCPs, applications in adsorption-based CO2 capture are a proposed avenue for a simultaneous solution to both environmental and economic issues.

Our lab-scale proof of concept studies have demonstrated potential for producing cost-effective BCP-derived adsorbents directly from Drax combustion residues (carbonaceous sorbents capturing 0.69 mmolCO2/g and 1.65 mmolCO2/g for zeolite-based materials).

Industrial deployment, in contrast, has yet to be achieved due to a lack of investigations into key adsorption operational variables such as particle size (which has an immense impact on the kinetics and pressure drop), and environmental aspects (i.e. disposal). Also, there is a clear need for robust adsorbent synthesis/activation routes to enable viable scale up.

This proposal aims to address these challenges (both operational and environmental) to facilitate an upwards transition in technology readiness level. This proposal builds upon our previously successful 2021 UKCCSRC Flexible Funding (EP/P026214/1) - which has successfully demonstrated the proof of concept - and aims to investigate, identify and improve the operational and environmental challenges of BCP-derived adsorbent using industrial-grade Drax BCP as a potential precursor for the synthesis of effective yet low-cost adsorbents used in post-combustion carbon capture.

This project is carried out in close collaboration with Drax power plant, UK - the largest thermal biomass combustion power plant in the world. The waste material used in this work is supplied directly by Drax and therefore, this would have an immediate impact within the UK BECCS context.

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dr Salman Masoudi Soltani - I am a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor in the US system) in Chemical Engineering. In May 2017, I joined Brunel University London as a founding member of the new Chemical Engineering Department, on the team in charge of the design and development of the Programme. I did my BSc (2005), MSc (2008) and PhD (2014; University of Nottingham) in Chemical Engineering. I am a Chartered Engineer (CEng/MIChemE) with both industrial and academic research backgrounds in chemical and process engineering. I am also a Fellow of Higher Education Academy (FHEA), UK, and the Postgraduate Research Director with the Department of Chemical Engineering.  My research area is mainly centred on Separation Processes & Reaction Engineering (with a focus on adsorption processes & Process Design & Modelling). I have led a number of major research projects on and around carbon capture and hydrogen production, funded via Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre (UKCCSRC), and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), along with a number of industrial consultancy projects, the details of which have been included under the "Research" tab of this profile. In 2022, my research was featured in the prestigeous Institution of Chemcial Engineers (IChemE)' magazine (The Chemical Engineer). Before joining Brunel University London, I worked as a Postdoctoral Research Associate with the Department of Chemical Engineering (Clean Fossil & Bioenergy Research Group) at Imperial College London, UK (07/2015 – 05/2017), contributing to several EPSRC as well as EU- and OECD-consultancy projects (Opening New Fuels for UK Generation; Gas-FACTS; CO2QUEST) in the realms of biomass combustion and the modelling and optimisation of CO2 capture & utilisation processes - in Professor Paul Fennell's research group and in collaboration with Professor Niall Mac Dowell and Professor Nilay Shah. In March 2017, I received the prestigious endorsement as the Exceptional Talent in Chemical Engineering by the Royal Academy of Engineering, UK. Prior to this, I worked as a Postdoctoral Knowledge Transfer Partnership Research Associate with Dr Shenyi Wu (Fluids and Thermal Engineering Research Group) at the University of Nottingham, UK (08/2013 – 07/2015), during which, I was fully based at A-Gas International ltd. production site in Bristol (UK), where I worked as a Project/Process Engineer on a major joint engineering research and process design project, involving the research, front end engineering design (FEED), detailed design, and development of a bespoke industrial-scale gas separation process. I was awarded The University of Nottingham Scholarship to study for a PhD in Chemical Engineering. I conducted my research with the Department of Chemical & Environmental Engineering at the University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus where I studied the effects of pyrolysis conditions on the structure of porous carbonaceous adsorbents synthesised from recycled waste, and the effect of subsequent surface modification on heavy metal removal from aqueous media.

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Project last modified 19/10/2022