Honeywell bets on UT carbon-capture technology – Houston Chronicle

Honeywell has licensed a new solvent used in the carbon capture process from the University of Texas at Austin. The solvent allows power generators and refineries to use smaller equipment, at a lower cost, to capture carbon dioxide before it enters the atmosphere.
Gary Rochelle, a chemical engineering professor at the University of Texas at Austin, spent 20 years developing a new solvent that can be used in the carbon capture processed. Honeywell has licensed the solvent, which allows power generators and refineries to use smaller equipment, at a lower cost, to capture carbon dioxide before it enters the atmosphere.
Honeywell has licensed a solvent developed by University of Texas chemical engineers they say will make it more affordable to capture carbon dioxide from power plants and heavy industry before it reaches the atmosphere.
The new solvent will enable companies to use smaller carbon-capture equipment, said Gary Rochelle, a chemical engineering professor at UT Austin who has worked more than 20 years to develop the chemical. That will make it cheaper for companies and facilities to employ carbon capture, and Rochelle said he hopes that will help lead to wider adoption of carbon-capture technology.
“It’s robust and resistant to oxidation and degradation,” Rochelle said. “You can use it at higher temperatures and pressures, and it reduces energy consumption by 10 to 20 percent.”
Rochelle and other researchers tested the new solvent at the University of Austin’s small power plant, which produces about 200 kilowatts of power from coal, and at the National Carbon Capture Center in Alabama, which produces 500 kilowatts. Twice that amount, 1 megawatt, is about enough electricity to power about 200 homes on a hot summer day.
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But if it were deployed at an average-size power plant, which produces about 685 megawatts, the advanced solvent’s carbon-capture technology could siphon about 3.4 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, about the same emissions produced by 735,000 cars each year.
It can also be used in a much wider array of industries, said Ben Owens, vice president and general manager at Honeywell Sustainable Technology Solutions.
“We’ve gotten a lot of interest from the cement industry and other verticals, like oil, gas and petrochemical,” he said. “Everyone we’re talking to is really evaluating how they can reduce their carbon footprint, so there’s a lot of engagement on this space.”
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Honeywell has yet to ink a deal to install the new equipment and use the new solvent in a real-world application, but Owens expected the first deals to be announced in the coming weeks.
He could not estimate how much it would cost a company to install the smaller machinery that uses the new solvent because it would vary by facility. But, he said, a company’s existing carbon-capture equipment could be retrofitted to use the new parts, and doing so could save them money in the long wrong.
“Attributes of the solvent allow equipment to be smaller-sized and ultimately relieves capital costs of deploying this technology,” he said. “That’s why we see it as a game changer.”
Shelby Webb is an energy tech, renewable energy reporter for the Houston Chronicle. She previously worked as an education reporter for the Chronicle for more than four years, covering trends across greater Houston and Texas. Before moving to Houston, she worked for her hometown paper in Sarasota, Florida, from 2013 to 2016 and graduated from the University of Florida.
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