Severn Trent Green Power and CPL Industries win BEIS investment with research partner the University of Nottingham

Severn Trent Green Power and CPL Industries in conjunction with the University of Nottingham have won £5m of BEIS funding from the Direct Air Capture and Greenhouse Gas Removal programme. The approach sees biochar produced from digestate screening residue using hydro-thermal carbonisation (HTC) and high temperature torrefaction (HTT) processing.

Severn Trent Green Power and CPL Industries win BEIS investment with research partner the University of Nottingham

Greg Hands, Minister of State for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change commented: “This £54 million government investment announced today will help establish a greenhouse gas removal industry in the UK, which could be worth billions to our economy, bringing in private investment and supporting the creation of new green jobs.”

CPL Industries, the UK’s leading manufacturer and distributer of smokeless fuels, have produced biocoal from Severn Trent Green Power digestate screenings using HTC processing. The solid residue is a by-product of the digestate screening process which ensures the best possible quality fertiliser for the agricultural industry. The material is hard to break down and Severn Trent Green Power send this to energy from waste plants. HTC uses pressure exceeding 20 bar and temperature exceeding 500°C to mimic the conditions of natural coal formation, yielding a carbon neutral biocoal under UK government regulation.

Jason Sutton, CEO of CPL Industries said: “To be part of such a milestone in environmental sustainability is an honour for us at CPL. After years of research and development into hydrothermal conversions, we look forward to seeing the potential carbon savings we can create alongside the University of Nottingham and Severn Trent Green Power.”

Biochar is a highly stable form of carbon which can maintain stability underground for centuries, allowing for it to be sequestered and for the receipt of negative carbon certification. Treatment of the biocoal at 700°C by HTT at CPL Industries’ Immingham plant converts the biocoal into a stable, sequestrable biochar.

Prof Colin Snape, who led the BEIS Phase 1 project and is also the Principal Investigator for the UKRI GGR-D Biochar Demonstrator project at The University of Nottingham said: “The feedstock and the technology provide the ideal combination to achieve CO2 removal costs below £100 and be at the forefront of the commercial deployment of biochar before 2030.”

Initially ten tonnes of HTC biocoal were treated in a pilot-plant to establish the quality of the biochar that could be obtained. The biochar produced was characterised and met the European Biochar Certificate quality standard. The joint venture plans to produce over 600 tonnes of biochar per year (2000 tCO2(e)) in the next development phase with commercial deployment targeted for 2030.

Dr Farryad Ishaq, Strategy and Business Development Director at Severn Trent Green Power, said:

“This venture demonstrates our commitment to a net zero future and maximising resources via the circular economy. This innovation will allow us to be at the forefront of the industry, converting a waste stream into an asset. I really look forward to collaborating with our partners CPL Industries and the University of Nottingham to achieve our shared goals.”

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