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1.   Low emissions value-added products from carbon resources

Evaluation of options for production of low cost CO₂-free hydrogen

$110,000 FUNDING

Submitted by CSIRO in association with Coal Energy Australia, Monash University and Gamma Energy Technologies


This project involves a techno-economic study of alternative routes to producing CO₂-free hydrogen from pyrolysis gas, as well as potential alternative routes, with the aim of identifying candidate technologies for further development and demonstration. The project involves an evaluation of three main technologies applicable to pyrolysis gas:

a)    Pressure swing adsorption for recovery of hydrogen from pyrolysis gas
b)    Catalytic steam reforming, to convert methane and hydrocarbons in the pyrolysis gas to syngas, followed by PSA for hydrogen recovery
c)    Chemical looping reforming of pyrolysis gas, with recovery of hydrogen and CO₂ as separate process streams

In addition, reference cases of hydrogen production by (a) gasification and (b) electrolysis using renewable power are also being investigated.

Read project funding article…

Enhanced yield and quality of humic products from lignite
$234,892 FUNDING
Submitted by Federation University in association with Omnia Specialities

Lignite is inherently rich in humic compounds, which are niche agricultural bio-stimulants enhancing food production with a worldwide market. However, the yield and properties of humic compounds are source-dependent, with significant variation (20-95%) across and within the various mines and deposits. The aim of this project is to develop a laboratory scale oxidation process that can facilitate the preparation of quality humic compounds in high yield, regardless of lignite source. Researchers will work closely with the industry partner to ensure that the process can practically and safely be scaled up for commercial production.

Carbon fibres from Victorian lignite
$410,272 FUNDING
Joint submission by Monash University and Deakin University

This project combines the capabilities of Monash University in the chemical transformation and fractionation of lignite with that at Deakin University (Carbon Nexus) in fabrication and characterisation of carbon fibres. This first-of-a-kind project aims at proof-of-concept, to show that carbon fibres with quality appropriate to specific applications can be prepared from Victorian lignite at laboratory scale.

The team will (i) screen a variety of prospective approaches to transforming Victorian lignite into suitable fibre precursors and then (ii) identify optimum methods for spinning these precursors into robust, high strength fibres. The mechanical and chemical properties of the product fibres will be carefully benchmarked against materials already in the market for a variety of applications.

Larger scale testing of lignite using Counter Flow Multi Baffle dryer technology
$26,000 FUNDING
Submitted by Monash University in association with the Korean Institute of Energy Research

Efficient drying is essential for most next-generation lignite technologies, whether it be briquettes for export, pyrolysis or gasification. The Counter Flow Multi Baffle dryer (COMBdry) process, developed by the Korean Institute of Energy Research, is a very attractive new drying option which uses low temperature waste flue gas (rather than high temperature steam) in an efficient countercurrent design. 


In 2017, a brief program for drying a Victorian lignite was undertaken using a 20 kg/hr COMBdry unit located at the Dangjin power plant owned by the Korea East-West Power Company. These scope-setting tests, involving Monash University personnel, established the drying temperatures required for high-moisture lignite and the residence time required to achieve equilibrium moisture content.


The present project represents a step toward scale up of the COMBdry process, involving a similar test with Victorian lignite, using a scaled-up version of 200 kg/hr for longer duration of up to 20 hours. This project will shed light on longer-term performance issues at a larger scale, including the risk of spontaneous combustion. The tests will also generate information that will allow reliable scale up of the technology to 50-100 tonnes/day using high-moisture Victorian lignite.

2.   CO₂ capture technologies

Combined pre-treatment of flue gas and capture of CO₂ by closing the sulphur Loop (coCAPco2)

$350,000 FUNDING
Submitted by CSIRO with support from AGL Loy Yang Pty Ltd and Energy Australia

This project builds upon an earlier BCIA-funded project, and aims to develop a refinement of CSIRO’s proprietary ‘coCAPco’ technology. The purpose of this technology is to reduce the cost of CO₂ capture by eliminating the need for a separate gas cleaning step prior to amine solvent treatment. The coCAPco process enables the removal of both sulphur dioxide and CO₂ in a single column, with a single liquid absorbent. 

This project will focus on developing a cost-effective method to regenerate the loaded solvent, and will include evaluation of alternative strategies including  crystallisation, nanofiltration, electro-dialysis, ion-exchange and distillation. The aim is to determine the best option for scale-up and continuous operation of the coCAPco process. 

Environmental and CO₂ processing implications of amine capture system degradation
$740,000 FUNDING
Submitted by Federation University with support from CSIRO, IHI Corporation, AGL Loy Yang and Agilent Technologies


This project focuses on reducing the cost of CO₂ capture through a better understanding of the effects of mineral contaminants and buildup of amine degradation products on the longevity of amine CO₂ capture solvents. The project will involve development and validation of analytical methods for quantifying degradation products in the IHI and CSIRO solvents used in the CSIRO-IHI PICA pilot plant at Loy Yang power station.

The research will be conducted at the Carbon Capture Research Centre at Federation University, on duration trial samples of both IHI and CSIRO proprietary solvents. Analysis of pilot-scale samples will be complemented by trials using a bench-scale accelerated aging rig, to elucidate the importance of fly ash composition and concentration on solvent degradation. In addition, the composition of the captured CO₂ will also be investigated, to determine whether fly ash or organic compounds are carried into the product stream.

Successful project completion will support IHI-CSIRO demonstration activity by providing additional information that will further derisk and lower the predicted costs of the next iteration of CO₂ capture technology. The data, design implications and waste management strategies delivered by this project will increase the likelihood of progression towards a large scale demonstration facility.