Tata Chemicals plans first UK industrial carbon capture demo plant

LONDON (Reuters) - Tata Chemicals Europe (TCE) plans to build Britain’s first industrial-scale carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) demonstration plant to trap emissions for use in sodium carbonate manufacturing, the firm said on Thursday.

The 16.7 million pound ($21.2 million) project will be located at the company’s Northwich industrial site in Cheshire, England and should start operations in 2021.

TCE is Britain’s only manufacturer of soda ash and sodium bicarbonate and is one of the country’s leading producers of salt. Its products are used by the glass, food, pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing sectors.

It is also the largest single-site user of liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) in Britain. Food-grade liquid CO2 is used in the manufacture of high-grade sodium bicarbonate, primarily an input in pharmaceuticals and hemodialysis.

“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,” TCE managing director Martin Ashcroft said in a statement.

Carbon capture, storage and use (CCSU) technology traps emissions from power plants and industry to allow them to be compressed and stored for deployment in other applications.

Many countries are seeking to develop projects to help meet their climate targets, but one obstacle has been cost.

Around 6 billion tonnes of CO2 needs to be stored by mid-century, according to the International Energy Agency, but large-scale projects are thin on the ground.

Environmentalists worry that carbon capture perpetuates the fossil fuel status quo when rapid and deep cuts to energy use are needed to limit global warming.

Rather than storing the CO2, CCU uses it to make other substances such as plastics or biofuel. It could be a way to reduce greenhouse gases from industrial emitters.

TCE’s CCU plant will capture CO2 from the flue gases of its 96-megawatt gas-fired combined heat and power plant. It will then purify and liquefy the gas for use in sodium bicarbonate manufacturing, the firm said.

The plant will be capable of capturing and producing up to 40,000 tonnes a year of CO2 to reduce TCE’s carbon emissions by 11%.

Britain’s target to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 became law on Thursday, making it the first G7 country to set such a goal. Like many other countries, it will need large-scale carbon capture plants to do this.

Also on Thursday, UK power company Drax received a 5 million pound grant from the government for a carbon capture pilot scheme from its power station.

Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Dale Hudson and Jan Harvey