Sizewell C and partners awarded Direct Air Capture funding

By Marjorie Barnes | Published on 20 October 2022 | 5 min read
  • £3m will be used to build demonstrator DAC unit
  • DAC system using heat from nuclear power will lower costs
  • Scaled-up project could make Sizewell C carbon negative

A consortium led by Sizewell C has been awarded £3 million by the Government to develop plans for Direct Air Capture which could be powered by heat from the new nuclear power station proposed for Suffolk.

The funding will allow engineers from the University of Nottingham, Strata Technology, Atkins, Doosan Babcock and Sizewell C to construct a demonstrator DAC unit capable of extracting 100 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere each year.

Direct Air Capture involves removing carbon dioxide which is then stored so that it cannot contribute to climate change. Some Carbon Dioxide (CO2) can also be ‘recycled’ for other purposes such as conversion into synthetic fuels.

Most existing DAC systems are powered by electricity, natural gas, or both, but the consortium is working on a design where the CO2 capture and extraction is implemented more efficiently using heat. Nuclear is the cheapest way of producing low carbon heat and this novel process has the potential to significantly lower the cost of deploying DAC in future.

If the demonstrator project being developed by the consortium is successful, a scaled-up DAC unit powered by heat from Sizewell C could one day capture 1.5m tonnes of CO2 each year. That is enough to almost offset the UK’s total emissions from railway transport.

A full-scale DAC system linked to Sizewell C would be built away from the power station and operated without any significant impact on its electricity output.
Proposals for the demonstrator project were submitted by the consortium as part of the Government’s Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR) competition, which is aimed at accelerating the development of carbon capture systems. Today’s announcement follows the successful completion of a research, development and design study in 2021 as part of phase 1 of the competition.

GGR technologies are crucial for helping the UK achieve net zero emissions as they will help to offset the CO2 produced by industries which are difficult to decarbonise, like agriculture and aviation.

All engineering, design, construction and testing activities for the pilot will be carried out in the UK to develop a British DAC technology.

Sizewell C’s Financing Director, Julia Pyke, said:
This is another fantastic vote of confidence in Sizewell C and shows how nuclear can add even more value to our future energy system. Sizewell C is already set to become one of the UK’s biggest net zero projects and by linking it to DAC it will make an even bigger impact on our carbon emissions.”

Energy and Climate Change Minister, Greg Hands, said:
This £54 million government investment announced today will help establish a greenhouse gas removal industry in the UK, which could be worth billions to our economy, bringing in private investment and supporting the creation of new green jobs“.

Strata Technology’s Managing Director, Roger Kimber, said:
During Phase 1 our team of engineers, working alongside those from our partners, were able to develop a technically viable and commercially cost-effective process for capturing Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere. Phase 2 funding has now provided us with the opportunity to develop our novel process to a scale where we can demonstrate just how effective our technology will be when deployed commercially and I am very excited to see the plant in action.

Professor David Grant, Director of the University of Nottingham Energy Institute, said:
The challenge with extracting CO2 directly from the air is the energy requirement and cost. This exciting work based on the research led by Dr Chenggong Sun at Nottingham has the capability of utilising heat and significantly reducing the costs of Direct Air Capture. This is a great illustration of innovation at the University of Nottingham Energy Institute (UoNEI) to utilise available heat to decarbonise our world. The UoNEI is also working on many other initiatives utilising heat from the integration of systems, efficient heat management and thermal stores to direct heat conversion such as developing new thermoelectric materials.

Cameron Gilmour, VP of Nuclear for Doosan Babcock and SZC Consortium Spokesperson, said:
We are delighted to continue our involvement in the exciting and innovative Direct Air Capture project. We look forward to further collaboration with our partners to develop the DAC technology in support of the key role that Sizewell C will play in the UK’s energy transition and net zero ambitions.

Chris Ball, Managing Director for Nuclear & Power, EMEA, Atkins, said:
The DAC project is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate how co-locating clean technology at operational power stations will maximise their impact on a net zero energy system in the most cost-effective and efficient way. This Sizewell C project will create a model to show how we can test and then scale-up the development of novel technology and maximise the benefits of reliable, clean nuclear energy.”

Editorial notes:

  1. During phase 1 of the BEIS GGR competition, the consortium successfully completed a research and development project for heat-driven DAC. Phase two of the BEIS competition will relate to the actual implementation and demonstration of the proposed solution.
  2. Sizewell C DAC consortium partners:
    1. University of Nottingham conducts internationally leading R&D of innovative carbon capture technologies.
    2. Strata Technology has extensive experience of the design and build of carbon capture and utilisation pilot plants, including projects for Imperial College London, University of Sheffield and a recently completed pilot plant for the University of Nottingham.
    3. Atkins and Doosan Babcock will apply their industrial engineering expertise to advise on the scalability of the technology for future integration at Sizewell C.
Tagged with: DAC, Direct Air Capture, Net-Zero
Posted by Marjorie Barnes

The Sizewell C comms team brings you news, updates, blogs and information on the Sizewell C project.