Inventys, located in Burnaby, British Columbia is a cleantech company that produces technologies for the energy and process industries.
Inventys developed the VeloxoTherm process, a new gas separation technology, which uses a structured adsorbent and a rotating cylindrical frame.
Velexo Therm is a high energy and capital-efficient technology for capturing carbon dioxide from industrial flue gas streams.
VeloxoTherm process costs less than one third of existing post-combustion CO2 capture technologies and will finally enable the widespread adoption of enhanced oil recovery and carbon sequestration.
The process has the ability to recover the heat energy produced during the absorption of carbon dioxide and use it to release the carbon dioxide, reducing thereby the overall costs.
André Boulet is a co-founder of Inventys and is the inventor of the VeloxoTherm process. He is an inventor of several advanced gas separation technologies and is cited on more than 20 patent applications in this field.
Inventys was recently awarded 1.9M$ Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) to demonstrate the VeloxoTherm process with its consortia partners, which include Suncor Energy, Doosan Babcock, and British Petroleum.
Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is a commercially proven process where CO2 is used to increase the amount of crude oil that can be extracted from an oil field. Since the VeloxoTherm process provides an economical method to separate waste CO2 from industrial flue gases, this waste CO2 can then be used to produce a valuable product – oil.
Inventys is initially developing the VeloxoTherm process for the EOR market and plans to aggressively market it to industrial CO2 emitters that are situated close to planned enhanced oil recovery pipelines.
By 2013, there will be over 500 potential installation sites that fit these requirements in North America alone.
The VeloxoTherm (velox = fast; therm = thermal) gas separation process is a post combustion carbon dioxide capture technology that has been developed by Inventys Thermal Technologies. This technology enables carbon dioxide to be captured from industrial flue gas streams for 15US$ per tonne of CO2.
The VeloxoTherm process is an intensified temperature swing adsorption process that uses a proprietary structured adsorbent to separate CO2 from almost any industrial flue gas stream.
Simply put, a structured adsorbent is a sorbent material which is arranged into a monolithic structure. The structured adsorbent used in the VeloxoTherm process resembles a honeycomb that preferentially traps CO2 while allowing other gases such as nitrogen and water vapor to pass through it. The favorable balance between hydraulic and transport properties achieved by structured adsorbents significantly increases the gas throughput of the system for a given amount of adsorbent (the specific productivity of the adsorbent). This intensification enables the VeloxoTherm TSA process to manage the very large volume of gas that must be processed from industrial flue gas streams encountered in post combustion CO2 capture applications.
Fixed bed adsorption processes, like the VeloxoTherm process, can be intensified by increasing the feed rate to the process by decreasing the cycle time of the process. The extent to which this approach can be implemented is limited by the pressure drop, mass transfer, and heat transfer characteristics of the adsorbent reactor, all of which are not favorable for a traditional arrangement of adsorbent – packed beds.
The shortcomings of packed bed reactors inherently limit the performance of conventional sorbent systems and therefore these systems are not considered to be bona fide alternatives for the post combustion capture of carbon dioxide. Properly designed structured adsorbents can overcome the limitations of conventional sorbent-based separation processes and greatly enhance their performance and economics.
Structured adsorbents by their nature are immobilized, so fluidization is nonexistent. Also, correctly designed structured adsorbents provide lower pressure drop per unit length than a packed bed of adsorbent, so for low pressure applications, such as post combustion CO2 capture, they are ideal. In addition, structured adsorbents with high cell densities give proportionally better performance than packed beds because of their higher geometrical surface area. Thus structured adsorbents are among the most efficient methods available to pack high adsorbent surface area into a fixed volume while still maintaining low pressure drop.
Adsorption is an exothermic (heat producing) process. When CO2 molecules accumulate on the surface of the structured adsorbent, heat is evolved. When CO2 molecules disperse from the surface during regeneration just the opposite occurs – heat is consumed. As the cycle time of adsorption systems is reduced, management of heat flow during adsorption and desorption becomes increasingly important so that the benefits of superior mass transfer and hydrodynamic benefits offered by structured adsorbents can be realized.
The structured adsorbent developed by Inventys for the VeloxoTherm™ process, however, goes one step further – it has the unique ability to recover the heat energy evolved during adsorption and supply this heat energy to the adsorbent during regeneration. This feature is responsible for the low amount of energy required for adsorbent regeneration – less than 1.5 GJ/tonne of CO2 and is an important factor responsible for the very low net energy consumption for the process.
The VeloxoTherm process is unlike conventional adsorption processes that have two or more adsorption reactors operating in an adsorption cycle, which is driven by a series of valves. In the VeloxoTherm process the structured adsorbents are fixed in a cylindrical frame which rotates. The frame is divided into at least two zones. In the adsorption zone, flue gas enters and CO2 is captured from the stream. As the frame rotates, the structured adsorbents pass into the regeneration zone where low-pressure steam is used to release the captured CO2. Because the separation process operates near ambient pressure, a simple sealing mechanism can be used to isolate the adsorption and regeneration zones.
The rotary adsorption machine replaces discrete adsorption vessels and the accompanying complex arrangement of valves and piping. This embodiment has several advantages. The rotary adsorption machine is a simple, inexpensive, and a proven design. The rotary adsorption machine can readily be integrated into new and existing chemical processes (heaters, boilers, crackers, cement kilns, blast furnaces, and gas turbines) because it is not tightly integrated into existing plant operations. Any industrial facility can continue normal operations during the installation, commissioning, and maintenance of the VeloxoTherm plant.
The VeloxoTherm process is readily scalable. Any number of structures can be assembled to construct a VeloxoTherm plant of nearly any capacity; a plant capacity of 100 tonnes per day of CO2, which would be emitted from a typical process heater in a refinery, would be approximately three meters in diameter whereas a 80 meter diameter VeloxoTherm plant would be capable of processing 5 megatonnes of CO2 annually. Having a projected capital cost of US$132-million, a VeloxoTherm plant of this capacity would be suitable for installation on a 500megaWatt pulverized coal fired power plant.
The VeloxoTherm process is able to capture CO2 from nearly any industrial flue gas stream for a total cost (operating + capital) of 5 US$ per barrel of oil recovered, which is equivalent to a capture cost of 15 US$/tonne of CO2. The VeloxoTherm process presents purified CO2 at low pressure so compression and transportation are required for use in EOR applications. This will translate into a field-delivered price of approximately 35US$/tonne of CO2, depending, on the nature of the EOR project (the cost for compression and transportation are, of course, application and EOR site specific).
As of now it appears that the industry is gungho about the Veloxo Therm process. Particularly the carbon capture cost of 15 $ per ton of CO2.
Looks like carbon capture and storage is going to happen soon, if Velexo Therm works.