Norway's carbon capture coup

Norwegian firms develop carbon capture membranes.

The Norwegian company Protia is betting that a new approach to carbon capture, based on ceramic membranes, will make a big difference to efficiency and costs.

Protia belongs to a cluster of start-ups at the Oslo Innovation Centre that are working to improve clean-energy technology.

Just as plastic membranes efficiently separate water from salt in modern desalination plants, ceramic membranes hold promise for separating carbon dioxide from other gases in hot industrial exhausts.

It is an approach that could one day replace the huge towers and tanks used in chemical processes.

Some membranes can separate gases at temperatures of between 1,500°C and 1,700°C, which are optimal for gas turbines, said Per Vestre, the managing director of Protia.

That would allow carbon dioxide emissions from gas-fired power plants to be captured, overcoming a major technical challenge. The goal is worth pursuing as gas is expected to displace coal in the power sector.

Mr Vestre said he also expected liquid fuels derived from gas to displace petrol and diesel for powering vehicles.

"It's almost certain that the world has abundant supplies of gas, and it is almost certain that with rising demand from Asia for transport fuels, oil prices will remain high," he said.

Published: February 13, 2011 04:00 AM


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