Cambridge Carbon Capture, the company that uses fuel cells to lock away harmful CO2 gases, generate electricity and create building materials as a by-product, is in talks about installing its groundbreaking technology in Australia's largest brown coal deposit.
Fresh from its £40,000 funding success in the regional heats of the Shell Springboard competition and with a new chief executive Dr Robin Francis in place, Cambridge Carbon Capture (CCC) is pushing forward with its innovative solution to dealing with industrial carbon emissions.
"There are various conversations with potential industrial partners that we are working on, including promising discussions with a large Australian coal company", said Michael Priestnall, CCC co-founder and chief technology officer.
"It is the largest deposit of brown coal in the world, in Australia. Looking at feasibility of putting our technology in and testing out mineral silicate rocks they have as a feedstock for the process."
The CCC process is positioned as a realistic and relatively cheap alternative to the prevailing carbon capture and storage (CCS) technique. CCS is based on geological storage, an expensive and energy hungry method that pumps the CO2 into empty gas or oil wells, but is nevertheless backed by over £1 billion in international funding.
CCC uses electrochemical technology – fuel cells – to generate electrical power from hydrocarbons whilst simultaneously capturing and permanent sequestering CO2 via a mineralisation reaction that produces the same kind of silicate material that is used for building aggregates: it produces limestone.
CCC completed its technology feasibility work with Cambridge University at the end of December, the highlight of which was the discovering that converting fuel to electricity using the electrochemical process actually delivered negative CO2, less CO2 in the fuel cell than there is in the ambient air.
CCC is now looking to spend £500k with partners in the industrial development of its process. Funding will come from its industrial partners and certain UK and EU grants, with no plans for VC investment until the end of next year.
Having been named a regional winner in the Shell Springboard programme, CCC will now compete to be named as the overall UK winner in London on the 22 February.
Michael Priestnall talking about CCC's CO2 capture technology