New Sorbents to Control CO2 and Multi-Contaminant Emissions

EPA Contract Number: EPD11047
Title: New Sorbents to Control CO2 and Multi-Contaminant Emissions
Investigators: Alptekin, Gokhan
Small Business: TDA Research Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: I
Project Period: March 1, 2011 through October 12, 2011
Project Amount: $80,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2011) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Greenhouse Gases


The oil refining industry is one of the most significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions, with considerable contribution from downstream activities. CO2 emissions from refineries rank third among the stationary producers (after power and cement industries), accounting for about 4% of the global CO2 emissions, approaching 1 billion tons per year. In addition, the oil refineries emit significant amounts of heavy metals (such as mercury and arsenic) through stack emissions. CO2 emissions at refineries can be reduced through a number of routes, including carbon capture and storage via oxy-firing, and pre-combustion and post­combustion scrubbing, but these methods are expensive. None of the existing technologies reduce the emissions of volatile metals.

TDA Research, Inc (TDA) proposes to develop a low cost, high capacity CO2 adsorbent and demonstrate its technical and economic viability for post-combustion CO2 capture from petroleum refineries. In addition to CO2, the new sorbent will remove volatile heavy metals (e.g., mercury and arsenic) from the flue gas.

The objective of this work is to develop a new chemically modified mesoporous carbon sorbent to simultaneously remove CO2 and other harmful contaminants (e.g., mercury and arsenic) from petroleum refineries.

Anticipated Results

Phase I

In the Phase I project, TDAwill synthesize different sorbent formulations and screen them based on their CO2 capacity and removal efficiency. TDA will show that the sorbent retains its activity for many adsorption/desorption cycles (a minimum of 1,000 cycle test will be carried out in Phase I) in the presence of flue gas contaminants simulating conditions downstream of a wet scrubber. TDA also will assess the performance of the sorbent for mercury and arsenic removal. TDA will carry out a preliminary design of the sorbent reactors used in the adsorption and regeneration steps and project their cost. TDA will estimate all consumables and parasitic power loss to support the operation of the CO2 capture system. Finally, TDA will estimate the technical and economic viability of the new multi-pollutant capture technology to retrofit the petroleum refineries

Phase II

A key requirement is to demonstrate the effectiveness of the sorbent using an actual flue gas. Because of the complex nature of the gas, it is difficult to assess the impact of all other impurities in the gas, such as other trace contaminants, as well as the changing operating conditions and loads. Another important need is the scale-up of the sorbent manufacturing. As in every other novel material development, the current production batch size of TDA's sorbents is small and it is made in a laboratory using bench-scale equipment (e.g., glass flasks). In Phase II, TDA will increase the batch size several orders of magnitude, and carry out production using high throughput equipment representative of commercial preparation methods.

Commercial Applications

The new technology is proposed to be developed for petroleum refineries, but it is also applicable to other emitters, including coal-fired power plants and the cement industry. The existing capacity in the U.S. electric utilities exceeds 700,000 megawatts. Therefore, it is expected that there will be a large, ready market when legislation limiting or taxing carbon emissions is put in place. The expected revenue from sorbent sales is expected to be in multi-million dollars.

Supplemental Keywords:

CO2 capture, Petroleum refining, Adsorbents

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report