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NTNU has developed a membrane that can capture most of the CO2 in flue gas and biogas. This product attracted the interest of an American membrane manufacturer, which has now reached an agreement with NTNU. This is an excellent example of how academia and industry can work together to bring new technologies to market. Illustration photo: Thinkstock

CO2 capture technology moves closer to the marketplace

One of the world’s leading membrane manufacturers has signed a licensing agreement with NTNU on a new technology that allows for environmentally friendly CO2 capture.

Professor May-Britt Hägg displays the plastic membrane that she and her research team have developed. Photo: Per Henning / NTNU

Professor May-Britt Hägg displays the plastic membrane that she and her research team have developed. Photo: Per Henning / NTNU

A research group led by Professor May-Britt Hägg in NTNU’s Department of Chemical Engineering has developed a thin plastic membrane that can remove up to 90 per cent of the carbon dioxide in flue gas and biogas.

The so-called “fixed-site-carrier” membrane (FSC) can be ironed onto hollow fibres or other support structures. When the carbon dioxide is removed, it can be stored so that it is not released into the atmosphere.

Now Air Products, an American industrial gas company, has signed a license agreement that allows the company to use NTNU membrane technology with PRISM, its own carbon capture technology.

Taking carbon capture to a new level

Air Products and NTNU researchers have already tested the technology in industrial plants and had good results.

The researchers believe the technology has great potential for coal and other industrial processes, which generate a considerable amount of greenhouse gases. In addition, the technology can be used to upgrade biogas to methane.

“The combination of Air Products’ PRISM membrane and NTNU’s FSC technology moves carbon capture to a whole new level of efficiency that makes economic sense,” said Charles Page, director of Air Products’ PRISM membrane division.

“Air Products is committed to developing solutions that enable our customers to minimize the impact of their operations on the environment. We are confident that our license agreement with NTNU will provide Air Products with the technology to manufacture gas membrane separators that are revolutionary in CO2 capture,” he says. He adds that the new agreement may open up new opportunities for the Norwegian affiliate of Air Products in Kristiansand.

New technology makes it to market

The FSC technology developed at NTNU is the result of years of research in the Department of Chemical Engineering. The researchers received funding from Gassnova, the Research Council of Norway and the EU. Air Products, Statoil, Norcem, Alberta Innovates, DNV-KEMA and SINTEF have been important partners.

“NTNU is happy to have Air Products PRISM Membranes, a major international membrane manufacturer, as the exclusive licensee of our FSC-membrane technology,” says Trond Gifstad. He is head of technology licensing at NTNU Technology Transfer, which works to commercialize research results and ideas that come from NTNU and Central Norway.

“Air Products’ expertise and large commercial networks will help ensure that this technology is put to use. This is an excellent example of how academia and industry can work together to bring new technologies to market,” Gifstad says.