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Investment roadmap: Planning for carbon capture and storage

Reducing emissions can be approached the same way as any other new capital project

S. FERGUSON, Foster Wheeler, Reading, UK

T here is mounting worldwide concern

over potential climate change due to

anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO 2 )

emissions. Global power generation and pro- cessing industries are CO 2 contributors. There are a number of drivers for the process indus- try to manage and reduce its CO 2 emissions. Manufacturing sites have opportunities for additional income from the sale of CO 2 credits or to mitigate the risk of penalties imposed by future legislation. Remember:

Management of CO 2 emissions is growing in importance. To be successful, applying a rigorous investment planning approach to projects that minimize or reduce the car- bon footprint of a new or existing facility, or a portfolio of sites is a favorable strategy. Whatever the scale and however far reaching the emission reduction aims may be, apply- ing an appropriate roadmap tool ensures that the best project is implemented to achieved set goals. This article introduces the concept of an investment planning roadmap and outlines the steps involved. Many available technol-

ogies to reduce CO 2 emission will be dis- cussed. Each step in the investment planning roadmap will be discussed, noting in particu- lar how it can be applied to CO 2 emission reduction and carbon-capture projects.


The goal of investment planning is to support companies in selecting the right projects to achieve their strategic goals. This involves determining if the projects are both economically and technically feasible, ensuring the optimum usage of capital and determining the most appropriate timeframe for the project. To reach the best project for meeting the client’s needs, it is necessary to follow a simple but rigorous roadmap pro- cess, as shown in Fig. 1.

Agree objectives. It is fundamental to define what is desired to be achieved by the project. This can range from a simple plant debottleneck to achieving an overall CO 2 emissions target for a global corporation. There may also be a number of stakehold- ers involved, so this stage is key in ensuring alignment between the parties involved.

Market analysis. This step is essential to drive the feedstock, product slate and plant configuration to the optimum eco- nomic solution, maximizing the plant mar- gin. Market analysis will determine product demand and price (including CO 2 pricing and feedstock price and availability).

Plant configuration studies. For

most applications, linear programming (LP) is used to develop a model of the project incorporating product yield, capital and operating cost data for each potential unit operation. The results of the market analysis are also input into the model that is

then run to determine the best performing configuration on a net present value (NPV) basis. The LP model generated can then also be used to rapidly explore a number of “what if” scenarios, thus enabling the proj- ect’s economic sensitivity to key product or feedstock price variations to be understood.

Site selection. The suitability of the proposed location (or locations) can be

assessed by considering four key factors:

Site—Land availability, ground con-

ditions, structures and obstructions, severe weather protection and earthquake zonal rating

Port—Already existing, dredging

requirements, jetty location, existing

facilities and suitability of surrounding waterways

Infrastructure—Local and national

road network, heavy haul routes, rail net- work and regional and national airports

Local area—Towns and industry

nearby, construction resources, schools

Agree objectives Market analysis More detailed reviews Plant configuration study Site Cost selection estimates
Agree objectives
Market analysis
More detailed
Plant configuration study
Economics and
Develop offsites/
financial analysis
facilities concept
Recommend configuration
development roadmap
FIG. 1
The investment planning roadmap.




and emergency services, prevalent health hazards, landfill materials and local labor. This assessment not only looks at the suitability of prospective sites but it also allows the cost of infrastructure develop- ment, ground remediation, etc., to be fac- tored into the total cost estimate.

Offsites and utilities. The scope of

the utilities and offsite requirements will be based on data from process unit tech- nology providers. Major equipment lists for all utilities, tankage and other offsite requirements will be identified, including intermediate tankage based on the high- level shutdown philosophy and marine facility requirements.

Constructability studies. It is cru-

cial to consider the constructability during the investment planning stage of a project to determine issues that could impact the design. Such issues include access routes for large or heavy equipment and cost benefits of modular rather than stick-built fabrica- tion. At this stage, a high-level schedule for the full project through to startup can be developed allowing the contracting strategy to be planned.

Cost estimates. The cost estimates, based on current market data for the plant location, are based on all of the proceeding stages in the investment planning process. High-level operating costs, including mainte-

The roadmap approach to investment planning can be tailored to meet the needs of any project to ensure that the company’s goals are achieved and the right project solution is developed from the beginning, whether that be a grassroots refinery project, a low-carbon power station or a retrofit to meet new emission performance standards.

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nance, insurance, labor, feedstocks, catalysts and chemical requirements, are developed along with the total capital cost estimate.

Economic and financial modeling.

The capital and operating cost estimates are fed into models to ensure that the plant economics are sufficiently robust and achieve the objectives specified by the com- pany at the beginning of the investment planning process. The assumptions within the models should reflect the company’s long-term outlook and consider a number of scenarios. The project’s internal rate of return (IRR) should be considered, along with the NPV to determine the magnitude of the reward for the estimated investment costs.

Investment planning process.

Investment planning can be an iterative

process, and while changes are frequently made in later design stages, the earlier they occur within the project development then the cost for changes and iteration is sub- stantially lower.

A well-conceived investment plan, based

on real data and tested against real scenarios

gives a sound basis upon which to prog- ress the project. The plan should focus on all the issues affecting the project cost and development—not just the configuration of the process units.


A well-developed design, utilizing the

optimal feedstocks, energy integrated flow schemes and high-value product slate, is inherently likely to be efficient, minimiz- ing energy demand and waste streams. However, there are almost always some unavoidable energy demands and carbon emissions. This section introduces some key options for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission abatement. This article will focus only on CO 2 since it is the largest and most high-profile single GHG. For other industries, it may also be appropriate to consider management of carbon monoxide (CO), methane, nitrous oxide, CFC and HCFC emissions. Greenfield development projects have the advantage of being able to design their processes for reduced CO 2 emis-

sions through process selection and choice

of primary energy supply. However, both new and existing plants can consider these options:

• Efficiency improvements

• Fuel substitution

• Feedstock substitution



• Configuration modifications

• Carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Efficiency improvements. The most

cost-effective approach to carbon abate- ment is efficiency improvement that can be potentially applied to both existing and planned assets. By maximizing efficiency, the inherent carbon emissions and energy requirements of the process will be mini- mized. A study of process efficiency will focus on those emissions, which are gen- erated by the process itself, such as CO 2 resulting from chemical reaction, as seen

in the coal-to-liquids processes. A study of energy efficiency will then look at minimiz- ing the requirement for heat and electrical energy input to the process so that emis- sions from the utility supply can also be minimized. Onsite power generation can be sig- nificantly more efficient than standalone power generation since it can be integrated within the process. A number of potential integration options include:

• Power generation from steam raised in wasteheat boilers

• Boiler feedwater preheating against process-generated low-grade heat

• Cooling water cooling against a cold process stream

• Use of onsite fuel sources.

Energy integration across the site can reduce the need for energy input to the facility. For example, adding new process units may provide sources for waste heat that can eliminate the need for continu- ous use of a process heater elsewhere. It is important to consider that the plant must still be able to start up and maintain avail- ability, so the capital expense may not be significantly reduced by energy integra- tion. However, if the plant is able to run for a significant proportion of its operating hours with fewer process heaters in opera- tion, then plant-wide energy demand will be reduced. If both power and heat are needed by the process, then co-generation of electricity and steam (or hot water) in a combined heat and power (CHP) plant should be considered.

Fuel substitution. CHP plants can be

highly efficient. However, if the CHP plant can accept a number of different feedstocks, including low-carbon or “carbon-neutral” fuel, such as refuse-derived fuel or a range of locally produced biomass feeds, then the site’s carbon footprint can be further reduced. This also applies to power genera- tion without simultaneous heat generation.

The addition of renewables to supple-

ment the power generation portfolio can increase the diversity of generation and significantly reduce the carbon footprint for utility systems. However, the likely load factor, or the availability, of each type of renewable generation, which could be con- sidered for each location, should be con- sidered. Renewables include wind, solar and, potentially, tidal power, as well as the previously mentioned biomass.

Feedstock substitution. In some

applications, it may be possible to wholly or partially substitute a high-carbon content, or a high embedded-carbon feedstock, for

conventional feedstocks that are closer to being carbon neutral. For example, if part of the plant includes the gasification of coal or petcoke to produce a syngas, partial or full substitution with an appropriate bio- mass may be feasible to reduce the total carbon footprint, or increase production without increasing CO 2 emissions.

Configuration modifications. Con-

figuration modifications can mean swap- ping one or several process units for more efficient alternatives or debottlenecking part of the plant to minimize carbon losses to atmosphere. While this is much easier during the design of a new plant, it

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is not impossible for existing plants. For example, performing pinch analysis on a refinery’s crude preheat train may enable it to be reconfigured for improved total energy efficiency.


Most of the mentioned options will be very specific to the location and plant. However, CCS could be applied to almost all processes in some form. CCS is the pro- cess of removing or reducing the CO 2 con- tent of streams normally released to atmo- sphere and transporting that captured CO 2 to a location for permanent storage. CCS can be applied to a wide range of large sin- gle-point sources, such as process streams, heater and boiler exhausts, and vents from a range of high CO 2 footprint industries including: power generation, refining, natu- ral gas treating, chemicals, cement produc- tion and steel production. There are three

main classifications of technologies applied:

• Pre-combustion capture

• Post-combustion capture

• Oxy-fuel combustion capture.

Once captured, the CO 2 is compressed, dried and transported to a suitable storage location such as a saline aquifer, a depleted oil field (where enhanced oil recovery could be applied) or a depleted gas fields. Each CCS route here is a group of technologies based on similar process circumstances.

Pre-combustion CO 2 capture. A

solid or gaseous feedstock is fed to an oxygen or air-blown pressurized gasifier or reformer, where it is converted to

syngas. The syngas is then passed through

a shift reactor to increase the hydrogen

(H 2 ) and CO 2 content of the syngas. This high-pressure (HP), high-temperature syngas is cooled before being washed with

a solvent to absorb the CO 2 leaving an

essentially pure H 2 stream and a CO 2 - rich solvent stream. The solvent regenera- tion process then releases a CO 2 stream that can be dried and compressed for export. This process offers a high degree of integration potential as it generates a pure high-pressure H 2 stream, and the

syngas cooling train can be used to raise a significant quantity of HP, medium-pres- sure (MP) and low-pressure (LP) steam, as shown in Fig. 2. Pre-combustion varia- tions include:

• A range of coals, petcoke, fuel oils,

municipal solid waste and biomass can be

used as gasifier feedstock.

• Natural gas and light liquid feed-

stocks can be used with a reformer.

• A range of CO 2 solvent removal

systems are available along with methyl- diethanolamine (MDEA) as well as alterna- tive technologies such as membranes and pressure-swing absorption (PSA). Pre-combustion applications. The

CO 2 Vent Drying and export compression Lean solvent Absorber Stripper Flue Direct Hex gas
CO 2
Drying and
FIG. 3
Post-combustion flow scheme.
Nitrogen Air ASU Flue gas recycle CO 2 export Drying and Oxygen compression Fuel Oxyfuel
Flue gas recycle
CO 2 export
Drying and
Fly ash
FIG. 4
Oxy-fuel flow scheme.
46 I DECEMBER 2011

most obvious application of pre-combus- tion carbon capture would be a new-build

power plant in which the H 2 -rich stream is combusted in a gas turbine, and the steam raised during syngas heat recovery is used, along with heat recovered from the gas tur- bine exhaust, in a steam turbine to form a combined cycle plant such as an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) facil- ity. This scheme could similarly be used on a refinery for co-generation of low embedded-carbon hydrogen and heat to be supplied to other refinery units or with

a steam turbine to raise power. The acid-gas removal step is typically characterized by its HP syngas feedstock composed of mainly H 2 , CO 2 and CO. The same acid-gas removal process can also be applied to similar syngases in processes such as steam methane reformer (SMR) H 2 production, natural gas treating and ammo- nia production—even decarbonization of

refinery fuel gas could be considered. The pre-combustion scheme can also be used for repowering an existing gas turbine

power island or any burner that is capable of switching to decarbonized syngas, with

or without burner modification.

Post-combustion CO 2 capture.

Combustion flue gas is cooled by direct water contact before entering a blower designed to overcome the absorption sys-

tem pressure drop. The flue gas enters the absorption column where it is washed with

a physical solvent such as monoethanol-

amine (MEA). The flue gas is scrubbed of up to 90% of its CO 2 content and is returned to the combustor stack and released to atmosphere. The CO 2 -rich solvent is then heated against lean solvent and regenerated in a stripping column. The solvent returns to the absorption column while the released CO 2 is dried and com- pressed for export. The highlight of the post-combustion process is that it is suited not only for new installations but also for

retrofitting existing plants, as shown in Fig. 3. Post-combustion variations include:

• A range of processes exists utilizing

different solvents: MEA, ammonia, steri- cally hindered MEA and even sea water.

• For high-sulfur feeds, the process may

be coupled with a flue-gas desulfurization unit allowing the direct contact cooler to be eliminated.

Post-combustion applications.

Post-combustion carbon capture is typically associated with large retrofit power projects or new build, high-carbon footprint power



plants. Post-combustion CO 2 capture is a simpler system than the pre-combustion described earlier and it can be bolted on to the back of almost any combustion sys- tem. Very large single-point sources, such as power plants, present a challenge in terms of maximum scale up in a single leap, but once demonstrated at scale, this technol- ogy has the potential to be used to capture approximately 90% of the CO 2 emissions from any carbon-combustion-based power plant (including coal, oil, natural gas, municipal solid waste and biomass). As shown in Fig. 3, the scheme has already been demonstrated for many years in smaller applications, for CO 2 produc- tion used in the food and chemicals indus- tries. Some smaller scale plants may already be at an appropriate size to capture CO 2 from point sources similar to the size of refinery fired heaters. Depending on the specific site, post- combustion carbon capture could be applied to a number of refinery flue gas sources (such as fired heaters, fluid catalytic crackers, hydrogen production units) with the cooler, blower and absorber located as close as possible to each source (or group of sources) with the rich solvent, then pumped to one or multiple solvent regen- eration units and one or multiple compres- sion units. This offers flexibility to fit in around the plot plan of existing process plants as much as possible.

Oxy-fuel combustion CO 2 capture.

In this process, the fuel is combusted with oxygen from an air separation unit. The temperature in the boiler is moderated by recycling a portion of the flue gas back to the combustion chamber. The flue gas passes through particle removal by an electrostatic precipitator, sulfur removal by limestone scrubbing, and water removal by cooling and condensation. The remain- ing flue gas has a high CO 2 concentration that can then be purified, dried and com- pressed for export. Steam from the boiler is used to generate power via a steam tur- bine, as shown in Fig. 4. Oxy-fuel varia- tions include:

• A range of fuels can be used in an oxy- fuel flowscheme.

• A similar scheme has also been pro-

posed for the conversion of gas turbines to substitute oxygen for air.

Oxy-fuel applications. The most

discussed application of oxy-fuel carbon capture is for new-build, large-scale power production. However, adding an air separa-

tion unit and sealing the system against air ingress can allow any boiler or fired heater to be converted to oxy-firing. Careful con- sideration must be made with respect to design temperatures and pressure of the existing boiler or heater when applying oxy-fuel carbon capture as a retrofit. Oxy-fuel carbon capture aims to increase the partial pressure of the combustion flue gas by effectively eliminating the large vol- ume flow of nitrogen found in systems fired using air as their oxidant. This is done to remove the process step in both the pre- and post-combustion carbon capture flow scheme in which CO 2 must be separated from a stream largely composed of other gases. This results in smaller sized equip- ment and fewer processing steps. However, an air separation unit must also be included.


A carbon footprint reduction project requires each of the steps identified in the investment planning roadmap just as in any other project. Applying the investment plan- ning approach ensures that the objectives are well defined, the project is appropriate for the market, the configuration of the solution

is optimal; the costs are well defined, and the economic and financial case is robust.

Agree objectives. In this stage, the

exact targets at which the project is aimed and the scope to which they apply should be determined. For example, a company may wish to reduce the CO 2 emissions across its full portfolio of process plants to meet an internal company goal, or it may wish to focus on one location in which there is a specific driver, such as an emis- sions trading scheme. Likewise, the project may be intended to develop in stages, such as a refinery planning to reduce its carbon emissions by a set amount annually over a number of years. As for any investment project, there will be a number of stakeholders involved, and it is important to keep them all positively engaged, particularly if a new technology such as CCS is to be applied. Non-govern- mental organizations (NGOs) and local residents may be concerned about the new technology and require reassurance that risks to the environment and safety are mit- igated responsibly; they may also wish to know what other options were considered during the project development.

know what other options were considered during the project development. Select 161 at 47

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Market analysis. There is a wide range of available schemes aimed at incentivizing high-energy efficiency and reduced CO 2 emissions that augment the natural economic drivers for the process industry to minimize waste and maximize quality and output. Understanding what incentives are avail- able in the region in which a project will operate could enable the project to be signif- icantly more economic if it can take advan- tage of such schemes. Examples include regional emissions trading and grants for new or clean technology demonstrations. Likewise, the reverse can apply, particularly with the currently uncertain future in terms of GHG emissions regulation where taxes or levies may be brought into force in the near future. Being at a transition point in legislation can make it particularly difficult to predict and select a firm basis for the investment, thus making market analysis particularly invaluable for this project. There may be the opportunity to utilize captured CO 2 for enhanced-oil recovery or enhanced-gas recovery, either by the project company, or sold over the fence to a neigh- boring operator, thereby generating a signif- icant additional revenue stream. A refinery may be well placed for this application once

commercial movement of CO 2 by ship has been more widely demonstrated. Under- standing the market and legislative context into which the project will fit will help miti- gate the risks of being locked into expensive carbon penalties or high electricity or fuel prices while identifying any additional rev- enue streams not traditionally encountered.

Plant configuration studies. Once

the project objectives are defined and the applicable market and legislative frame- work are understood, then potential process routes and technologies can be identified. LP is extremely useful for determining the optimum configuration for energy efficiency and CO 2 emissions minimization. The abil- ity to run a number of “what if” scenarios, once the LP model has been developed, allows a picture of the project’s sensitivity to volatile fuel, electricity or carbon prices to be understood. It also allows the cost benefit of building in relatively capital-intensive, carbon-reduction options to be quantita- tively assessed as well as assessing how to configure the plant for optimal conversion of feedstocks into highest margin products. Just as the product yield and energy demand of each process unit is built into

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the LP model, so can be the CO 2 emitted, immediately enabling the minimum CO 2 emissions case to be identified. If the mini- mum emissions case is not economic without carbon capture due to a high anticipated car- bon emissions penalty, then carbon capture units can be added to the model in the same way as any other process unit to understand if this improves the project margin despite the additional capital and operating cost. Example. A hydrogen production unit (HPU) in a refinery produces a significant portion of the total site CO 2 emissions and

it can be the ideal candidate unit for a rela- tively quick win in terms of CO 2 emissions reduction. A number of capture techniques can be applied:

A. Pre-combustion capture on HPU

syngas between the shift reactor and the PSA unit.

B. Post-combustion capture on the

HPU reformer itself (where the reformer is fired on PSA tail-gas).

C. Post-combustion carbon capture

on other refinery fired heaters, fired on natural gas. In this particular study, both of the hydrogen unit carbon capture options (A and B) delivered significant CO 2 emissions reductions at a lower project cost (both capital and operating) than applying post- combustion capture to the other refinery fired heaters on the site.

Site selection. While the market analy- sis will have dealt with locally applicable drivers and the price and availability of primary fuels and feedstocks, there are sev- eral additional points to be considered with respect to site location. Most critically, for a project to even consider CCS as an option for CO 2 emissions management, a suitable storage location and transport route to that location must be identified in the earliest stages of the project. While some projects may be conveniently located close to a depleted oil or gas field, others may be comparatively “stranded” until such a time as regional infrastructure, such as a CO 2 collection and transportation hub, becomes available (if this is foreseeable within the planned lifetime of the plant). Options such as CO 2 shipping can also be considered, although alternative technology selection or alternative site location may be the more appropriate choice. The site selec- tion stage should also consider if renew- ables would be advantageous, particularly for coastal sites, sites with strong prevailing wind, high solar potential, or access to geo- thermal energy for water preheating.


For both new and existing sites, availabil- ity of extra plot space should be considered. Many countries are requiring that power gen- erators prove that their new plant is carbon capture ready (CCR), which usually trans- lates to ensuring there is sufficient additional space onsite to locate the capture plant.

Offsites and utilities. Since the

requirements for utilities and offsites are specific to the process configuration, these will be developed specifically for the con- figuration selected and included in the LP model. If carbon capture is to be included in either the initial design or added at a later date, the major utility requirements for CCS (i.e., power and cooling requirements for CO 2 compression and heating require- ments for solvent regeneration) will need to be included in the design capacity of the utility systems and/or integrated with the other process units where possible. Facilities for solvent storage and loading will also be required as suitable routing and metering for CO 2 export facilities.

Constructability studies. For a CCS

project, the physical size of the equip- ment—particularly for the large-scale post-combustion scheme—presents real challenges in terms of ensuring constructa- bility. In the largest cases envisaged (large- scale power generation schemes), the factor determining the number of CO 2 absorption trains required is fixed by the capacity of the largest possible physical size of vessel that can be shipped to the site, proposed to be a 20-m-diameter column. Panel constructed square absorbers may avoid this limitation, in which case, other equipment items such as heat exchangers and direct contact cooler become the limiting train-size items. For the solvent regeneration part, the train size is likely to be determined by the maximum physical size of reboilers that can be installed around the stripper to meet its needs. The constructability studies will also determine the plot space required for equipment laydown, along with the heavy lift cranes and other logistics of moving these large items of equipment to their final site locations.

Cost estimates, economic and financial modeling. Economic model-

ing, when designing for minimum carbon footprint, may be made more complex than other projects due to considering a greater number of scenarios and the need to do addi- tional sensitivity analysis to certain key vari- ables such as impact of various legislation,

taxation and subsidy regimes. Likewise, the impact of a particularly uncertain value rev- enue stream such as CO 2 should be explored in depth to determine the scenarios in which different project options become economic.


This article has outlined the method and justification for following an invest- ment planning roadmap to ensure that the optimum project is developed. With an investment planning roadmap, project objectives are well defined; the project is appropriate for the market; the configura- tion of the solution is optimal; the costs are well defined and the economic case is robust. This rigorous and staged process is particularly critical for projects in which there are a wide range of unknowns (such as future CO 2 price or penalty and vola- tile fuel prices) coupled with an array of potential mitigation options. Breaking the investment planning process into manage- able stages allows a clearer picture to be drawn and recorded with respect to which options have and have not been considered and how they compare against each other and against the overall objectives. HP

ACKNOWLEDGMENT Updated version of the original presentation at the Green Forum, Oct. 4–5, 2010, London, 1st Green Refining & Petrochemicals Forum.

LITERATURE CITED 1 Carter, D., “Investment Planning—A roadmap to success,” The Chemical Engineer, July 2009.

2 Bullen, T. and M. Stockle, “Integrating Refinery CO 2 Reduction into your Refinery,” Hydrocarbon Processing, November 2008. 3 Carter, D. and E. Petela, “Developing and Implementing the most appropriate energy man- agement strategy,” ERTC, November 2008. 4 Bullen, T. and M. Stockle: “CO 2 Infrastructure Development: CCS Options,” PTQ, October


5 Stockle, M., “Optimising Refinery CO 2 Emissions,” ERTC, November 2007. 6 Ferguson, S., “Energy Security and Greenhouse Gas Management,” Lovraj Kumar Memorial Trust Annual Workshop, New Delhi, November 2009.

Memorial Trust Annual Workshop, New Delhi, November 2009. Suzanne Ferguson i s a c h a

Suzanne Ferguson is a char-

tered chemical engineer with an MEng (Hons) degree in chemical engi- neering from the University of Surrey. She joined Foster Wheeler in 2004 and has worked on refinery and hydrogen unit front- end engineering design (FEED) projects and performed basis of design, FEED and EPC-phase dynamic simulation for LNG projects. She has also worked on power island design at Foster Wheeler’s Italian operation in Milan. Ms. Ferguson is now Carbon Capture Technical head in Foster Wheeler’s Business Solutions Group, UK, where she has worked on a range of CCS studies, FEED and pre-FEED projects.

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