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Carbon Capture & Utilisation

From 2021, Tata Chemicals Europe will be making one of the lowest carbon footprint sodium bicarbonate and sodium carbonate products in the world. These chemicals are used to make many everyday items seen in many households.

Already generating heat and electricity from one of the most efficient combined heat and power plants in the UK, the carbon footprint of Tata’s operations in Northwich is set to be significantly reduced through the completion of the UK’s largest carbon capture and utilization plant. This plant will enable a considerable proportion of the CO2 produced by the CHP to be recycled and used as a raw material to produce sodium bicarbonate.

“It’s truly exciting to be part of a great team delivering the UK’s largest CCU project that will demonstrate that this technology can be applied at a significant scale.  Our team, in collaboration with the supply chain, has taken this from the drawing board into delivery in record time and we’re looking forward to integrating the CO2 supply into our sodium bicarbonate production operations.”  Ladan Iravanian, Projects Director for TCE.

Find out more about this project here:

Latest Updates

TCE Building UK’s First Industrial Scale Carbon Capture and Utilisation Plant

UK’s Largest Carbon Capture Project

A Unique Application of CCU Technology

Why is TCE Investing in this CCU Plant?

A Strong Track Record in Carbon Reduction

Our CHP Plant is Already a Source of Low Carbon Electricity

How will Carbon Dioxide be Captured?

Where has this Technology Been Used in the Past?

The UK Government’s Clean Growth Strategy

Latest Updates

We will be publishing regular updates on the progress of the TCE CCU plant in the weeks and months to come as the groundbreaking project moves towards completion in 2021.

See here for the news release announcing the project.

Latest updates on the project:

March 2020: Carbon Capture and Utilisation Project Breaks Ground

July 2020: Carbon Capture Plant Equipment Starts To Arrive On Site

October 2020: Carbon Capture and Utilisation Plant Take Shape

February 2021: Pipework and Cabling Installed as Carbon Capture Project Presses Ahead Towards Finish Line

TCE Building UK’s First Industrial Scale Carbon Capture and Utilisation Plant

In June 2019, Chris Skidmore MP, Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) visited our head office to unveil a major £16.7m investment to build the UK’s first industrial-scale Carbon Capture & Utilisation (“CCU”) Demonstration Plant at TCE’s Winnington site in Northwich, Cheshire.

The CCU will significantly reduce our company’s carbon emissions, recycling the emissions to secure a sustainable supply of carbon dioxide – a key raw material critical to our business’s international growth.

The CCU plant will be designed and delivered by TCE alongside Pentair Union Engineering, a leading supplier of CO2 capture and purification technologies.  Planning permission was granted in 2019 and the plant is scheduled to commence operations in early 2021.

UK’s Largest Carbon Capture Project

The first large-scale CCU project of its kind in the UK, the TCE plant also represents a world first in capturing and purifying carbon dioxide from power generation plant emissions for use as a key raw material in the manufacture of high purity sodium bicarbonate. 

The project could help pave the way for other industrial applications of carbon dioxide capture and is an important step in decarbonising industrial activity.  The TCE CCU plant will play a major role in supporting the Government’s recently announced target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

A Unique Application of CCU Technology

In a unique application of CCU technology, the TCE plant will capture carbon dioxide from the flue gases of TCE’s 400MWheat, 96MWe gas-fired, combined heat and power plant (“CHP”), which supplies steam and power to our company’s Northwich operations and other industrial businesses in the area. 

The CCU plant will then purify and liquify the gas for use in the manufacture of sodium bicarbonate. Deploying CCU technology will reduce emissions, as captured CO2 will be used in the manufacturing process rather than being emitted into the atmosphere.

TCE’s CCU plant will be capable of capturing and producing up to 40,000 tonnes per year of carbon dioxide and will reduce TCE’s carbon emissions at the CHP plant by 11% and support the annual manufacture of over 120,000 tonnes of high purity sodium bicarbonate which is used in applications such as haemodialysis, pharmaceuticals, food, animal feed and many other applications.

Why is TCE Investing in this CCU Plant?

Not only will the CCU plant reduce the carbon emissions from our CHP plant, making it one of the most carbon efficient power plants in the UK, the project will be a springboard for TCE to unlock further growth into our export markets. Global demand for high grade sodium bicarbonate is growing as more of the world’s population has access to healthcare and TCE already exports 60% of its sodium bicarbonate to more than 60 countries across the globe.  

A Strong Track Record in Carbon Reduction

TCE has a strong track record of carbon reduction: following investment in new steam turbines in 2015, our business already produces Europe’s lowest carbon intensity soda ash and sodium bicarbonate.  Find out more about our other carbon reduction projects here.

MD, Martin Ashcroft, highlighted the important role that the CCU plant will play in TCE’s future success:

“The CCU demonstration plant will enable us to reduce our carbon emissions, whilst securing supplies of a critical raw material, helping to grow the export of our products across the world.  Implementing this industry leading project, with such strong environmental and operational benefits is hugely exciting, and we’re pleased to be working closely with BEIS to deliver the demonstration plant.

“We hope that this project will demonstrate the viability of CCU and pave the way for further applications of the technology to support the decarbonization of industrial activity.  Our parent company, Tata Chemicals Ltd, has supported this innovative project, enabling our UK operations to continue to reduce carbon emissions. This project is a great example of business and Government working together to rise to the challenge of decarbonising industrial production.”

Our CHP Plant is Already a Source of Low Carbon Electricity

Already one of the most efficient power plants in the UK, our CHP plant is a low-carbon source of electricity, currently producing half the amount of CO2 per kWh of electricity generated compared to a typical gas fired power station. Once the Winnington CCU plant is operational, this will reduce the CO2 per kWh electricity generated even further.  Reducing the carbon intensity of our soda ash and sodium bicarbonate products and setting a new benchmark for the industry.

Another move that will play a major part in reducing the company’s carbon footprint is our £7.2m investment this year in state-of-the-art boilers at British Salt in Middlewich, for more information about this project, please see here.

“Our CHP plant is a unique facility that has been at the leading edge of energy efficiency for a number of years now. It contributes low carbon heat and electricity to our operations in Northwich, making it a key pillar of our ongoing operations.”  Peter Houghton, Energy Director for TCE.

How will Carbon Dioxide be Captured?

The CO2 capture process removes diluted CO2 from the mix of gases in the CHP emissions and releases it as a concentrated CO2 gas.

CO2 will be captured using an Advanced Amine Technology (AAT) developed by Pentair Union Engineering.  In this process, flue gas from the CHP plant is first washed and cooled with water in a flue gas scrubber, removing any water soluble impurities.

Following this, the cleaned gas is then sent to an absorber tower, where it is mixed with a liquid stream containing an amine based fluid that reacts with and captures the CO2.

The CO2 rich liquid is then pumped from the absorber  to a stripper column, where steam from the CHP plant is used to heat the liquid. The heat causes the CO2 to be released, leaving the stripper as a gas with a purity of more than 99.9% which will meet EIGA (European Industrial Gases Association) standards for high purity applications.

After the CO2 is released, the amine solution is pumped back to the absorber, via a reclaimer unit that removes any waste build up, where it is re-used to capture more CO2. 

How is the Captured Carbon Dioxide Purified?

Following capture of the CO2, the gas is then purified again to ensure that it meets the necessary standards required for use in food and pharmaceutical applications.

First the CO2 is washed, removing any traces of the amine solution used to capture the CO2.  The CO2 is then compressed to about 20 barg and cooled.  At this point most of the water in the gas is condensed and removed. Any remaining moisture in the gas is then removed in a series of dehydrators.

The CO2 gas now passes a through a bed of activated carbon to capture any trace impurities.  Once the CO2 has left the carbon bed, it is condensed and the now liquid CO2 is passed through a distillation process where final traces of air and other inert gasses are removed from the liquid.

The resulting product is a CO2 liquid at 18 barg and -25 °C, with a purity of more than 99.999%, ready for use in our sodium bicarbonate production process and will meet EIG (European Industrial Gases) standard for food manufacture.

"We’ve worked closely with Pentair Union Engineering to develop this unique solution to capture CO2 emissions that are then recycled for use to produce sodium bicarbonate.  The liquified CO2 needs to be at an extremely high level of purity as the end product is used to produce food and medicines.”  Stewart Prentice, CCU Project Manager.

Where has this Technology Been Used in the Past?

This will be largest plant to be built to date using Pentair Union Engineering’s Advanced Amine Technology (AAT). Today more than 20 AAT plants are operating globally in a range of different industries including soft drink bottlers and industrial gas companies as well as in this unique application being pioneered by TCE.


Supporting The Government’s Clean Growth Strategy

The CCU is scheduled to commence carbon dioxide capture operations at our Winnington location in 2021.  Supporting the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy, the £16.7m project will be funded by TCE with the support of a £4.2m grant from the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) through the Carbon Capture and Utilisation Demonstration (“CCUD”) Programme. 

This landmark project is pivotal to the continued growth of TCE’s largest export product; high-grade sodium bicarbonate used in food and pharmaceutical applications.

TCE is the largest single site user of liquid carbon dioxide in the UK.  Food grade liquid carbon dioxide is an essential raw material for our business as it is used to manufacture high-grade sodium bicarbonate, which is primarily used in the pharmaceutical and haemodialysis sectors.

The UK Government’s Clean Growth Strategy

In April 2018 the publication the Government’s ‘Clean Growth Strategy’ set a framework for growing national income, while cutting greenhouse gas emissions.  To help enable this goal, the Government committed to spend up to £100 million from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Energy Innovation Programme to support Industry and Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) innovation. 

With the objective of improving business and industry efficiency, and further reducing the cost of deploying CCUS, the Carbon Capture & Utilisation Demonstration (CCUD) Programme - announced in the Clean Growth Strategy - provides grant funding to innovation projects that significantly reduce the cost of capturing and utilisation of CO2.

Commenting on the project, Chris Skidmore, Minister of State for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy at the time said:

“Cutting edge technology to capture carbon will cut emissions as we work towards a net zero economy, while creating new jobs – a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy.

“This innovative project from Tata Chemicals Europe represents a major milestone in efforts to rollout carbon capture at scale by the 2030s.”