University of Sheffield wins government funding for two new carbon capture research projects 


The Translational Energy Research Centre (TERC) at the University of Sheffield has been awarded £711,418 to develop the UK BECCS-MCFC: Next Generation CCUS Technology for Net-Zero 2050 project through the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero’s £20 million CCUS Innovation 2.0 programme.

The University of Sheffield has received funding to support two new projects from the programme, one of which will be led by the Translational Energy Research Centre (TERC), and the other of which will use the expertise of the centre and its director, Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian.

The projects join other carbon capture research projects at TERC, such as the FOCUSS project, announced last year, which aims to reduce the cost of achieving high capture levels from flexible power stations. The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (previously Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) awarded grant funding of £515,000 to the FOCUSS project, which is led by SSE Thermal.

The new funding, announced on Wednesday 28th June at the Climate Innovation Forum, comes as part of the £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP) from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.

The UK BECCS-MCFC: Next Generation CCUS Technology for Net-Zero 2050 project is the first of its kind to assess the technology known as Molten Carbonate Fuel Cells (MCFC), which could be a step change in CO2 capture technologies. Alongside the University of Leeds, TERC will demonstrate the potential of biomass energy-with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), and will enable significantly reduced costs for the CO2 capture process.

The next-generation MCFC technology generates power and heat, and at the same time separates CO2 and produces hydrogen. This project aims to develop and showcase the MCFC technology and produce new commercially viable technology options for BECCS, suitable for deployment at scale. As the host of the UK’s first bespoke MCFC, the Translational Energy Research Centre is unique in its capabilities to support this research, and is the ideal location for this innovative research, which could drive a major step forward for carbon capture technology and reduce costs.

TERC is also involved in a second project, ‘Pilot UNIt for CO2 filtRatioN’ or UNICORN, which will be led by carbon capture company Nuada (MOF Technologies) in collaboration with TERC. The project will showcase Nuada’s technology and demonstrate the ability of a new class of solid sorbents – absorbent materials used to capture impurities – called metalorganic frameworks (MOFs) to remove carbon from flue gas in an ultra-efficient way. Nuada is a carbon capture company that decarbonises heavy industries through next-generation point-source capture technology.

This research, using the innovative carbon capture technology developed by Nuada and the state-of-the-art equipment at TERC, will help to accelerate the decarbonisation of many industries which currently rely on fossil fuels. And because of the efficiency provided by Nuada’s technology, the cost of carbon capture could be significantly reduced.

Opened in 2021, TERC received a £7 million grant from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in 2019 through the £505 Energy Innovation Programme and also part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The facility includes cutting-edge pilot-scale testing equipment, enabling research into new technology for industrial partners. Thanks to the funding from the CCUS Innovation 2.0 projects, TERC can support industrial partners like Nuada and SSE Thermal in developing their CCUS technology.

Speaking about the announcement, Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Managing Director of the Translational Energy Research Centre, said: “We are thrilled to be involved in these two truly innovative carbon capture projects, and look forward to working with our partners.

“The pilot-scale technology available at the Translational Energy Research Centre is really at the cutting edge of the low-carbon solutions we have available, and using it in projects such as these means we can help to drive forward the availability of cost-effective, clean energy generation solutions, which is much-needed if we are to meet the net-zero goals in UK and globally.”

Lord Callanan, Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance, said:

“Britain has a long and proud history of pushing the boundaries in science – and our backing with over £80 million for these cutting-edge projects today will help make way for the next era of innovation.

“The transition away from fossil fuels presents a huge opportunity for our growing green energy sector and we will continue to make sure UK business can benefits from its full potential.”