The Helmholtz Alliance Mem-Brain
Membrane technologies for clean coal-burning power plants
New membrane materials could help reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in fossil-fuel power plants in the future.
Developing such membranes is the goal of the Helmholtz Alliance Mem-Brain, in which researchers from four Helmholtz Centres are working with domestic and international partners from science and industry.
- Duration: October 2007 to June 2011
- Total funding: €11 million
- Lead centre: Forschungszentrum Jülich
- Spokesperson: Prof. Detlev Stöver
- Participating Helmholtz Centres: GKSS Research Centre Geesthacht, DESY, Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie
- Partner institutes: Ernst Ruska Centre, Hermsdorfer Institut für Technische Keramik, Flemish Institute of Technical Research (Belgium), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (Valencia, Spain)
- Universities: RWTH Aachen, Bochum, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, University of Twente in The Netherlands
- Companies: EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg AG, GMT Membrantechnik, Plansee SE, Shell Global Solutions, Siemens AG
The researchers in the Helmholtz Alliance Mem-Brain have been working since October 2007 to develop selectively permeable membranes from ceramics materials and polymers that will drastically reduce, or possibly even eliminate entirely, emissions of CO2 and other harmful gases from coal and gas-fired power plants.
One type of membrane, for example, separates at an early stage the nitrogen and oxygen contained in the air so that combustion can take place with pure oxygen. Combustion with pure oxygen produces exhaust gas with a very high percentage of CO2, which can be more easily captured, and avoids generating noxious nitrous gases.
A second type of membrane being developed will then separate CO2 from the exhaust gas in the smokestack so it can be condensed and sequestered underground. The user perspective has been taken into consideration from the outset of the project, with the construction of a demonstration model and technical process analysis.
The Alliance’s research programme, which is receiving more than €11 million from the Impulse and Networking Fund over three years, comprises the first of three development phases. When Phase II is inaugurated in 2011/12, Mem-Brain is to become a research programme of the Helmholtz Association, in which the development and testing of components will be carried out in cooperation with electricity companies. This will pave the way for large-scale implementation in the final phase, which will be launched beginning 2016/17.
Dr. Wilhelm A. Meulenberg
Coordinator to the Helmholtz Alliance Mem-Brain
+49 2461 61-6323
w.a.meulenberg (at) fz-juelich.de