Can capture simulation replace physical testing?

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By Keith Burnard

17 November 2016

 USDOE’s John Litynski chaired an absorbing session on “Large-Scale Carbon Capture Pilots” that certainly seemed to strike a chord. Several speakers provided the audience with the benefit of their extensive practical experience of managing or operating capture pilots at the 10+ MWe scale. They described how testing often progressed through two or three stages, sometimes more, to move from testing at, say, the 0.1 MWe scale to demonstration. All recognised that this was an exceedingly expensive way to de-risk sufficiently to gain the confidence necessary to design and operate a utility-sized capture plant.

John put to them that the more powerful computational and simulation tools now at their disposal could offer a route to dispense with one or more of these stages. Did they think, for example, that testing at the 10 MWe scale was really essential. Responses were mixed. While the merits of simulation were not disputed, they each had reservations about skipping this stage. But they also felt that simulation offered benefits that were currently not being realised. Perhaps tests could be shorter in duration? And simulation could make a greater contribution to optimising heat integration between the capture unit and the power plant. With costs continually under the microscope and as computational tools become more powerful, this discussion is sure to continue!

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