How WES Technology is Tackling Capital Costs

Westec Environmental Solutions (WES) has developed a novel multiphase contacting process using a proprietary froth generator that can dramatically enhance mass transfer in industrial absorption, extraction and scrubbing systems.

The WES Absorber technology enables cost effective carbon capture from coal and gas fired power plants by substantially reducing the capital cost of the absorbers and the parasitic energy required for solvent regeneration.

Process Group was an early investor in WES and since that time has acted as WES’ technical partner. The fundamental science of the WES froth generator absorber has been recognised globally through Iberdrola’s (Spain’s largest utility company) selection of the technology as warranting large-scale financial investment.

The WES Absorber column is distinct from any currently available gas/liquid absorber. Within the WES Absorber a patented froth generator creates a micro-froth matrix that continually forms and collapses, thereby intensifying mass transfer. This micro-froth matrix mass transfer provides a dramatic increase in absorption efficiency compared to conventional gas/ liquid absorbers. Currently the WES Absorber achieves five theoretical mass transfer stages in a single 0.5 meter high stage. The WES Absorber requires less than one fifth the mass transfer height of current absorption columns with proprietary structured packing for the same level of CO2 absorption. Consequently, in flue gas carbon capture applications, the WES Absorber will reduce total absorber height by at least 50% compared to conventional packed absorbers and the size of the solvent regeneration system by 30%. The reduction in size leads to a dramatically lower solvent inventory and flow rate, delivering a 30% reduction in CAPEX and OPEX of the required solvent regeneration system. This reduction in plant size will also equate to a reduction in CCS plant CAPEX of approximately 20%.

Within the CCS sector, the WES Absorber technology does not compete against existing solvent based absorption processes, but rather complements them by providing higher efficiency compared to conventional internals. WES Absorber technology can therefore enable the most cost effective carbon capture system when combined with the advanced absorption solvents developed for CCS. Current CCS technology is both expensive and energy intensive. Industrial CO2 capture is in its infancy with only small-scale pilot plants and demonstration plants currently operational world-wide. Commercialisation of CCS is currently inhibited by the scale of the CAPEX and OPEX of all carbon capture processes. Implementation of CCS will face market resistance unless costs are controlled. WES provides a path to a cost-effective

Conventional Absorber (Left), WES Absorber (Right)

solution. Solvent-based CCS offers arguably the best opportunity for commercialisation of CCS in the near term with a number of proven solvent-based processes currently available. If solvent based CCS is to achieve commercial success, vast improvements in (i) solvents (ii) absorber design and (iii) regeneration processes are required.


1. The WES Absorber technology uses a micro-froth matrix absorption column that achieves significantly greater mass transfer than traditional packed or tray gas/liquid absorption columns.

2. The WES Absorber technology achieves a 50% reduction in contactor height compared to conventional high efficiency absorber packing.

3. The WES Absorber internals require one fifth the contact height compared to state of the art conventional absorber internals for the same degree of mass transfer.

4. The WES Absorber internals allow for the formation of solids (precipitants) through the absorption process without blocking or fouling.

5. The WES Absorber technology can be used with most commercial and generic carbon capture solvents.

6. The WES Absorber technology can be used in the majority of industrial gas/liquid absorption processes.

Process Group is not only intimately involved in development of the WES absorber but, in its role as an engineering partner of the CO2CRC, also performs the detailed design and fabrication of the solvent pilot plant to be installed at IPR-GDF SUEZ’s Hazelwood Power Station. The pilot plant is the cornerstone of ongoing research into alternate solvents and internals design for carbon capture and is one of many pilot plants that Process Group has designed and fabricated for the CO2CRC. Brown Coal Innovation Australia funding supports this activity.

For more information, contact:

Process Group
5 Hobbs Court, Rowville, VIC 3178 Australia

Tel +61 3 9212 7100
Web www.processgroup.com.au