16.7 RESEARCH

16.7 RESEARCH

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RESEARCH
Figure 1: Unloading modules with crane (Copyright 2016, AGL).

PICA Post-Combustion Capture Project
By Aaron Cottrell, CSIRO Senior Engineer / Project Leader – PICA Project


CCS (carbon capture and storage) is a key technology. It has a major role to play in minimising the costs of meeting global emissions reductions targets, and can also help create opportunities for “negative emissions” which are likely to be necessary if we are to limit global temperature rises to 1.5°C. The technology can be applied both to power generation, for example electricity production from brown coal, and to industrial processes such as fertiliser manufacture that also generate significant volumes of CO₂.

PCC (post-combustion carbon dioxide capture) technology utilising amine based liquid absorbents is expected to be one of the most promising CCS technologies to be applied to large scale coal-fired power plants. However, conventional PCC technologies have a high energy consumption from the power station’s steam cycle, and face major capital and operational costs. Research is required to reduce these costs, and drive greater uptake of CCS.

The PICA project is a major research collaboration between CSIRO, IHI Corporation (Japanese technology provider), and AGL, supported by BCIA. The name PICA is an acronym formed from PCC and the project partners IHI, CSIRO and AGL.

The PICA project will fill knowledge gaps on how PCC systems can be most effectively operated on real flue gases from actual coal-fired power plants, especially during long-term operation. Its objective is to both improve emissions reduction efficiency and demonstrate pathways to reduce the capital and operational costs for CO₂ capture.

The project uses a pilot plant that was manufactured by IHI in Japan. This plant has been designed to be easily transportable, with the potential to re-use it for other testing campaigns after the PICA project completes.


The PICA pilot plant was first tested and evaluated in Japan in 2015. Then the plant was disassembled and transported to Australia, and was connected to the AGL Loy Yang power plant in late 2015. Commissioning and testing then followed, and the site will be officially opened on Friday 18th March 2016.

CSIRO will conduct a two-year evaluation of two advanced liquid absorbents, two advanced process designs and an advanced gas / liquid contactor. The combination of these three aspects represents a significant step forward in PCC technology application for brown coal-fired power stations.

The duration experiments differentiate this project from known PCC pilot plant test results and will make a significant contribution to the global body of research into amine based reactive gas / liquid absorption for CO₂ capture.

Successful completion of the project would enable scale-up of the next technology phase and potential for a larger-scale demonstration project.

In addition to research outcomes, better knowledge of the CCS process will support skills-development for the brown coal industry through the expansion of training opportunities.

Figure 2: Completed PICA Plant on site at AGL Loy Yang.


For more information please visit csiro.au.



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