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Low-cost CO2 capture by chemical looping combustion
of waste-derived fuels

Experimental facilities at the Institute of Energy Systems and Technology in Darmstadt

TU Darmstadt’s 1 MWth Pilot Plant: Testing under Industry-like Conditions

Author: Philipp Mohn (TU Darmstadt)

Most research happens at a desk or in the laboratory and this is no different for the scientists at the Institute of Energy Systems and Technology in Darmstadt. However, a few times a year, nearly all employees leave their desks to operate our 1 MWth modular pilot plant, which can be used to test various novel gasification and carbon capture technologies.

24/7 operation for two weeks

Due to its size and significant thermal capacities, it is not possible to start the plant up in just a couple of hours. Instead, it is usually operated 24/7 for at least two weeks in a three-shift pattern. While this can be time-consuming and requires a lot of preparation by the whole team, it presents academia with unique opportunities to get a much better understanding of the performance of and challenges related to novel technologies under realistic industrial boundary conditions.

Read more: SINTEF Visits Pilot Plant at Technische Universität Darmstadt

1 MWth modular pilot plant

At the heart of the modular pilot plant are two fluidised bed reactors, which can be variably interconnected in order to test a variety of fluidised bed technologies. These reactors were originally owned by Foster-Wheeler, and were shipped from Finland to Darmstadt in 2010. Since then, they have formed the basis of various national and international research projects and undergone several modifications and upgrades. The plant has been used to test technologies such as carbonate looping, chemical looping, and the high-temperature Winkler process, from which manifold valuable insights have been gained.

CLC reactor system of the 1 MWth modular pilot plant

Demonstrating the overall technical feasibility of ACT LOUISE

The pilot plant will once again play a key role in the ACT LOUISE project, which will demonstrate the chemical looping combustion of waste.

After testing the process at a smaller scale to identify optimal process conditions, the 1 MWth experiments in Darmstadt will demonstrate the overall technical feasibility of the chemical looping combustion (CLC) waste-to-energy concept. Through a complete refractory lining of the reactor system in order to minimise heat loss, it is possible to set up an autothermal operation, which means no external heat needs to be supplied to the process. During this industry-like state of operation, measurements of corrosion and fouling will be taken.

Overall, the insights gained from these tests will be used to develop a demo-plant concept, lift the process’ technological readiness level (TRL) to 6, and pave the way for the industrial application of the LOUISE concept.

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