TCM
 

An important ingredient

At the Technology Centre in Mongstad (TCM), we help technology suppliers find the best way to capture CO2.

Since it was established in 2012, TCM has supported more than 20 different technologies. Together with the technology suppliers, we have looked at how different solvents support the process of capturing CO2. TCM staff work every day to develop the capture technology. Our flexible flue gas is a key element.

 

Oversiktsbilde TCM med hav og fjell i bakgrunnen.
Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM). Photo: Eivind Senneset

Enhancing Carbon Capture Research at TCM with Versatile Flue Gas Sources

At Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM), groundbreaking strides in carbon capture technology and emissions reduction are underway, fueled by the invaluable resource of flue gases provided by Equinor’s Mongstad refinery. These flue gases not only offer a testing ground but also a realm of possibilities for exploring diverse CO2 concentrations, ranging from 1%- 20%. Such flexibility empowers TCM to delve into a myriad of industry applications, including conditions for various industry applications, such as steel and cement type flue gases.

Traditionally, TCM has been supplied with flue gases from various sources, each contributing uniquely to its research endeavors. The journey began with the Combined Heat and Power plant (CHP), operating on a combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT), which ceased operation in 2022. This plant, fueled by a blend of natural gas and refinery fuel gas, facilitated the capture of approximately 80 tonnes of CO2/day, with a CO2 content typically ranging from 3.5 to 3.7 mole%.

An unparalleled testing environment

The transition post-2022 saw the emergence of the Mongstad Heat Plant (MHP), ushering in a new era of flue gas testing. With the closure of the CHP plant, Equinor’s strategic modifications introduced a steam boiler together with revamped waste heat recovery unit. This unit provides MHP flue gas. The CO2 content in MHP gas ranges from 8-9 mole%, expanding TCM’s testing capabilities to simulate conditions akin to steel and cement flue gases, with concentrations of up to 20 vol% CO2 achievable through product recycling.

Furthermore, the residual fluid catalytic cracker (RFCC) at the refinery stands as another significant source of flue gas, providing CO2 concentrations of up to 13-14 mole%. The amine plant, with a processing capacity of approximately 40000 to 45000 Sm3/h, captures around 200 tonnes of CO2 per day from this source, enriching TCM’s research portfolio with yet another dimension of exploration.

In essence, the convergence of these diverse flue gas sources equips TCM with an unparalleled testing environment, propelling advancements in carbon capture technology and emissions reduction. As TCM continues its quest for sustainability and innovation, the synergy between Equinor’s refinery operations and TCM’s research initiatives promises a brighter, greener future for industries worldwide.

Mix different concentrations and compositions

TCM uses two industrial sources of flue gas: Equinor’s residue cracker at the Mongstad refinery (13 per cent CO2) and the associated Mongstad Heat Plant (MHP) (8-9 per cent CO2). These two flue gas sources make it possible to simulate emissions from different industries, such as cement production, steel, waste management and oil refining. TCM can mix different concentrations and compositions from these two sources. This is unique in a global context and means that more people will be able to come to us to test how their technology works under different conditions.

TCM’s good neighbor has visionary plans at Mongstad

”Equinor Mongstad stands as Norway’s sole oil refinery. Amidst evolving global dynamics, the facility plays a pivotal role in ensuring our nation’s energy security, with the majority of its output earmarked for export.”

“However, with the refinery at Mongstad nearing its 50th anniversary, its longevity is under scrutiny. Consequently, we are spearheading several transformative projects aimed at fostering sustainable and lucrative production, thereby bolstering regional employment and prosperity.”

Assuming the helm of Equinor Refining Norway at the dawn of the year, Bernt E. Tysseland now leads a workforce of approximately 900 employees. With an annual refining capacity of 12 million tons, the facility receives 40 percent of Norway’s crude oil production from its continental shelf. Its principal outputs encompass gasoline, diesel oil, jet fuel, and other light petroleum derivatives, predominantly destined for international markets.

Equinor Mongstad also supplies the flue gas that TCM uses for testing CO2 capture technologies and is responsible for the operation of the facility.

Equinor is therefore one of the few companies in the world with practical experience in operating a CO2 capture facility. We have extensive offshore experience in capturing and storing CO2, and carbon capture and storage (CCS) is important for many of our projects. Therefore, we are very pleased that TCM is secured for further operation, and that Equinor’s ownership stake has increased. We hope TCM will succeed in developing the business on commercial terms. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a world-leading neighbor in CO2 capture technology. TCM is of crucial importance for Equinor’s own insight and expertise in carbon capture and storage”, emphasizes Tysseland.

Bernt E. Tysseland elucidates the Mongstad Industrial Transformation (MIT) at a gathering of mayors in Nordhordland in February.
Mongstad Industrial Transformation. Illustration: Equinor

To cut emissions by 850,000 tons of CO2

This expertise will be important for guiding the industry at Mongstad through the green shift.

”By 2030, Norway aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent, compared to 1992. At the same time, we cannot stop all production of fossil energy, because there will still be needs that must be met. But there will be lower demand for several products delivered from Equinor Mongstad, especially gasoline. Therefore, it is important that the facility considers what opportunities it has to adapt to the future market,” says Tysseland.

Equinor aims to reduce the company’s CO2 emissions by 50 percent, and to achieve this goal, there must be reductions in emissions both from the seabed and from point sources on land. ”Mongstad is unfortunately in a somewhat unique position with nearly 1.7 million tons of CO2 emissions annually, which is about 3 percent of Norway’s total emissions. We have demonstrated the ability to adapt, and already deliver bio-products. We have also been working on energy efficiency for a long time, but this is far from enough.” Tysseland says the goal for Equinor Mongstad is to halve the facility’s CO2 emissions.

Mongstad Industrial Transformation (MIT)

”We have looked at various ways to do this, and concluded that decarbonization of the fuel gas we need for boilers and furnaces used in our processes is the best and most sustainable, and that this is best achieved through the production of blue hydrogen. In this way, we can decarbonize the gas and obtain a product with virtually zero emissions, while maintaining the production of petroleum-based products we need in a supply situation. We will still have emissions from the cracker as long as it is in production. At the same time, we will increase the production of biomass, and thereby reduce emissions. But we will continue to supply the flue gas TCM needs for testing carbon capture technologies”, he assures.

This project is called Mongstad Industrial Transformation (MIT), which requires the establishment of a hydrogen plant of a certain size and capacity.

Factory for the production of blue hydrogen

Tysseland explains that Mongstad now, regardless of MIT, is one of two possible Equinor locations for a large hydrogen plant – for the export of hydrogen to Europe. This is being worked on in the Clean Hydrogen to Europe (CHE) project, where the other location option is Kollsnes in Øygarden. This project is in an early stage, and there is a long way to go before any investment decision. Regardless of this, Equinor therefore sees the opportunity for development at Mongstad using hydrogen.

”The establishment of a hydrogen plant, regardless of size, will require us to capture the CO2 and store it. A blue hydrogen production facility has great opportunities for downstream hydrogen-based industries, such as blue ammonia, especially for use in the maritime sector”, he says.

Giant project for CO2 storage

Two years ago, Equinor was granted a license to plan the expansion of capacity for CO2 storage at the Smeaheia field, east of the Troll field in the North Sea, to 20 million tons annually. This implies a significant increase in the capacity to store CO2 on a commercial basis on the Norwegian continental shelf. Northern Lights, the CO2 storage facility in the Langskip project, has a planned injection capacity of 1.5 million tons per year in phase 1 with startup in 2025, and can later be expanded to 5-6 million tons per year.

”Developing CO2 transport and storage quickly and on a large scale is crucial for Europe to achieve its climate goals. Smeaheia is a CO2 transport and storage project that connects large CO2 transport solutions in Northwest Europe to the enormous reservoir beneath the seabed in the North Sea. The project considers both a CO2 pipeline and transport of CO2 by ship. The Smeaheia project is based on a shipping terminal at Sture in Øygarden, but there is also work being done on a separate CO2 transport solution for Mongstad.

Bernt E. Tysseland engages in dialogue with Crown Prince Haakon during his visit to TCM in early March.

Needs competitive framework conditions

For the projects included in MIT, Equinor is now conducting preparatory work, where during the year, a decision will be made whether to conduct a feasibility study with a process line.

”The prerequisite for moving forward will be that MIT, in total, is profitable. For that, we need a clear political acceptance of blue hydrogen as an energy carrier. But we also need access to enough power, and then we need predictable regulatory development in line with the EU.”

Tysseland points out that carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a means of reducing CO2 emissions is not directly profitable today without risk mitigation to support these investments. He is more optimistic about sustainable industrial development, but it requires access to hydrogen.

”As Equinor embarks on transformative endeavors like the Mongstad Industrial Transformation (MIT), conducive regulatory frameworks and robust political support emerge as imperative prerequisites. The viability of such initiatives hinges upon unequivocal acknowledgment of blue hydrogen’s role as an energy carrier, coupled with sustained investment in infrastructure and regulatory alignment with EU standards”, emphasizes the head of Equinor Mongstad.

”To translate aspirations into tangible outcomes, collaborative efforts between industry stakeholders, governmental bodies, and local communities become indispensable. By fostering synergistic partnerships and prioritizing sustainable development, we can chart a course towards enduring prosperity for Norway, the West Coast, and the Mongstad region.”

“TCM’s safety culture benefits our customers”

“At TCM, we adhere rigorously to the world’s most stringent HSEQ standards. For technology suppliers collaborating with us on planning, conducting, and analyzing test campaigns, this adherence serves as a valuable hallmark of quality, especially when the technology is destined for implementation in full-scale CO2 capture plants. Our unwavering commitment to safety directly benefits our customers!”

Name: Pål Venås

Age: 46

Marital status: Cohabiting, two children

Affiliation to TCM: HSE/QR Manager 2023 –

Previous work experience: Diverse HSE practice in the energy industry, including as a senior advisor at Statnett.

Pål Venås joined TCM as an HSE engineer in May last year. He has since been appointed HSE/QR manager assuming responsibility for ensuring the vision of zero incidents affecting the life and health of personnel working at the plant is realized.

“Our HSE statistics are very positive because preventing unwanted incidents is part of the organisation’s DNA. However, statistics only tell the story of what has been, not what may happen tomorrow. HSE is therefore perishable in nature and needs to be continuously nurtured by creating understanding and ensuring compliance,” he emphasizes. “That is why we have a comprehensive quality system with KPIs against which all our managers are measured.

TCM operates two facilities, the Amine Plant and the Emerging Technologies Site, where customers carry out some of their testing with their own personnel.

Pål Venås, HSE/QR Manager at TCM, highlights the organization’s dedication to safety, emphasizing its benefits for customers.

How confident can you be that they will not, consciously, or unconsciously, follow established procedures, for example, for handling toxic chemicals?”

“At the heart of a testing campaign at our facilities are extensive contractual frameworks that describe, among other things, the very strict emission permits within which TCM operates and the procedures to which the customer agrees to adhere in order to maintain a safe working environment. They have the same interest as we do in ensuring that testing is carried out within safe parameters, including the use of safety equipment and functional meters. We cannot, of course, shadow everyone who works in the facilities, but through our inspections and controls we will quickly identify and act against those who may be attempting to ‘cut corners’.

“However, people from countries with a different culture to Norway may perceive our systems and safety procedures as rigid. How are such contradictions resolved in practice?

“The prerequisite for good and trusting cooperation is that HSE standards and procedures are put on the table early in the dialogue with companies considering testing at TCM. For example, we operate under what is believed to be the strictest permit in the world for nitrosamine emissions, which means that TCM must have access to and be able to control the chemical content and characteristics of the various technologies. Our data storage systems provide customers with the assurance that this information will not be compromised. The benefit to the customer of using TCM’s expertise is that, as I said earlier, if our strict safety requirements are met throughout a campaign, then they have all the prerequisites to be successful anywhere in the world.

TCM started operations at the amine plant in 2012 and the site for emerging technologies was established in 2020.

In Pål Venås’s office, a framed poster from over 20 years ago outlines the enduring goals of HSE work. “The core values remain the same, but fortunately, HSE has come a long way since Olav Fjell was CEO of Statoil,” Venås emphasizes.

“Can you give examples of measures implemented over the years to ensure a safe working environment?”

“Based on measurements and experiences after the test campaigns, both technical and administrative measures have been implemented to improve safety. For example, in connection with the 60-metre-high absorption tower, we have built a separate ‘analysis house’ at ground level to protect personnel from potential fallout as well as from weather, wind and temperature changes. Around this house, we have also extended the emission pipes sufficiently high above the ground. This is to ensure that any potential emissions of tiny and diffuse particles, which are not covered by the emissions permit, are at an appropriate distance from people in the area. We have also moved a container from the workshop area to the factory to prevent potentially contaminated clothing and equipment from being transported by car. We have also enclosed lye and chemical containers for safer storage, shielding and waste collection.

TCM’s many publications also contain good descriptions of how we work to prevent harm to people, the environment and materials. Sharing experiences is a core aspect of all HSE work”.

A lot to manage

As HSE/QR manager, you lead a department that, in addition to yourself, consists of occupational hygienist Alexander Reyes-Lingjerde and company doctor Brynjar Jakobsen, both in part-time positions. It must be quite a lot to manage when you also must monitor the physical and psychosocial working environment for TCM’s office workers?

“That’s why it’s so important that the strict HSEQ standards we’ve adopted from our industrial owners permeate the entire organisation. The engineering department plans how to organise a campaign, including analysis of the chemicals to be used before the modification department and operations/maintenance/laboratory take practical responsibility for implementation. In the HSE department we focus on supporting the relevant departments as early as possible and throughout the process. From the customer’s point of view, the advantage lies in the seamless transitions from step to step and the short decision-making paths. This ensures the efficient execution of a campaign in a working environment that everyone feels is safe.

We share our knowledge

Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM) is proud to have published more than 60 scientific articles, with several more in progress. Our extensive experience in operating a CO2 capture facility has given us unique expertise that we are keen to share with all interested parties.

TCM contributing to technology development

Since its establishment in 2012, TCM has been a hub for global technology suppliers to come to Mongstad to test, verify and develop cost-effective technologies for CO2 capture from industrial plants. In addition, TCM’s owners have led scientific campaigns using non-proprietary technologies such as MEA and CESAR1 solvents, setting benchmarks for commercial technology suppliers. As a result, a number of scientific articles.

By testing both proprietary and open technologies, TCM is a world-leading centre of excellence in carbon capture. Our commitment to trust and confidentiality ensures excellent test results for each partner. 

More than 60 scientific articles

TCM’s primary focus is to drive technology development that reduces the cost of capture while minimising environmental and technical risks, thereby facilitating the accelerated deployment of large-scale industrial CO2 capture facilities.

Visit our website for a comprehensive overview of all published articles covering a wide range of topics. Use the search function and other available features to easily navigate through our categorised articles.

 

We have divided the articles into the following topic areas

  1. TCM Design & Construction
  2. Operational Experience & Results
  3. TCM Verified Baseline Results
  4. Emissions – Limits, Measurements and Mitigation
  5. Aerosols & Mist
  6. Solvent Degradation, Management and Reclaiming
  7. Process modelling, Scale-up and Cost reduction
  8. Transient / Dispatchable operation & Process control
  9. Corrosion & Materials
  10. CESAR 1 Solvent 
  11. MEA Solvent 

«Research on emissions is highly valuable»

«Research and development at TCM for measuring air emissions during CO2 capture have been absolutely crucial for establishing methods, both domestically and internationally, to assess the safety of a project in terms of health and environmental impact,” says Steinar Pedersen, a researcher at Equinor specializing in CO2 capture and storage.

However, he adds, “The prerequisite is that in all new capture projects, one adheres to and makes use of this important knowledge already in the early planning phase.»
Steinar Pedersen works at Equinor’s research unit in Herøya Industrial Park, specializing in CO2 capture and storage. Photo: Equinor

When the planned full-scale project at Mongstad came on the drawing board in 2008. Pedersen had the opportunity to delve into a new and exciting field for him.

«One major risk factor of the project was whether emissions of amines and the formation of nitrosamines and nitramines in the atmosphere posed such a significant cancer risk to the population that the technology had to be abandoned. Through collaboration between researchers at UiO, NILU, TCM, and international experts. Effective tools and methods were developed. This has created the necessary confidence in carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a crucial contribution to the fight against climate change,» he emphasizes.

Emissions permit with strict regulations

The emissions permit applicable to TCM’s operations is issued by the Norwegian Environment Agency. And follows the recommended exposure limits for nitrosamines and nitramines in air and drinking water set by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI). FHI recently updated its report from 2011, and the same limit values have been retained.

«In our efforts to develop sound assessment methods, we relied on the conservative limit values provided by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) for guidance. Based on the properties of one of the most carcinogenic substances, nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), limit values were established for concentrations in air of up to 0.3 nanograms per cubic meter and in water of up to 4 nanograms per liter of drinking water, measured as the sum of nitrosamines and nitramines. The corresponding cancer risk is one case per million people over a lifetime of 75 years.»

Steinar Pedersen emphasizes the importance of the emission expertise held by TCM and the strict regime that applies to testing both mature and new carbon capture technologies in this regard. Research and development of reliable methods for measurement and continuous monitoring during testing thus make emissions a crucial parameter for the industry when selecting suitable technology for a capture plant.

Person iført verneutstyr som tar prøver utendørs fra røykgasspipene på TCM.. Foto.
Sampling from the flue gas pipes on TCM.

Informative MEA campaigns

Knowledge about emission measurement has also been important for a total of three periods of open test campaigns at TCM using the capture solvent MEA (Mono Ethanol Amine) organized by the company’s owners. Pedersen participated in a working group that planned and carried out the last campaign in 2017. In addition to studying methods for reducing pollution levels in the treated gas leaving the process, the work provided valuable insights into potential process improvements and the possibility of achieving a high CO2 capture rate from an emission source.

«In addition, the campaign provided us with important learning and understanding both regarding energy consumption and efficiency, and about the performance of the capture solvent over long-term operation. By documenting these experiences in scientific publications and presenting them in professional forums, TCM has contributed to setting a benchmark for amine-based carbon capture that has benefitted the entire international CCS community.»

«You have been following TCM from the planning and construction of the facility until today. Has the operation met the expectations you and other professionals had for what was supposed to happen?»

«I would say that TCM has actually exceeded expectations. The rationale behind this is that over the years, a market for functional capture technologies has been created. This is a result of suppliers being able to take the final and highly demanding step towards commercialization. And sale of technologies to the industry through testing at the facility. Furthermore, it is worth emphasizing that TCM, through the establishment of its 3rd site, also provides space for developers of less mature technologies to test how these function under real physical conditions. Moreover, TCM’s position as a world-leading center for carbon capture is confirmed by the large number of visitors who come to learn and be inspired by highly competent professionals.»

«The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that to meet the climate goals by 2050, 1.7 billion tons of CO2 must be removed directly from the air and water, and 6 billion tons of CO2 must be removed through conventional carbon capture and storage (CCS). With today’s CCS plants, only 50 million tons are managed globally. What do you think is needed to accelerate development?»

«Through research, development, and testing, technologies have been created that are applicable to capturing large volumes of CO2. In my opinion, the challenge now primarily lies on the market side. The climate challenge is global, but the willingness to pay the price that can solve the problems is not yet strong enough. Nevertheless, Norway is leading the way with Langskip, and exciting capture and storage projects are being developed in several other countries. Therefore, I am optimistic, both regarding CCS and measures that contribute to reducing the footprint of the energy we use. At Equinor, we are investing broadly across the entire value chain with major projects in energy carriers such as solar, wind, and hydrogen, and we are not alone among the major players in working diligently towards climate-friendly energy solutions. And fortunately, there are still some years left until 2050.»

Steinar Pedersen (64) is a researcher (Specialist Process Downstream) at Equinor’s research unit in Herøya Industrial Park, specializing in CO2 capture and storage. He graduated as a chemical engineer from NTNU in 1982 and subsequently worked at SINTEF.

Since 1986, he has been employed by Norsk Hydro, and since 2008, he has been with StatoilHydro (now Equinor). From 2014 to 2019, he was partially seconded from Equinor to TCM’s Business Development department. During this period, he also participated in a working group established by TCM’s owners to prepare and carry out an open test campaign (MEA).

Since 2020, he has been a member of TCM’s technical committee (TC).

Further development of close cooperation with US technology developers

TCM had the honour of welcoming a delegation from the NETL and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) at the end of 2023. This resulted in an article in the NETL newsletter.

Important collaboration

Ismail Shah, Managing Director of TCM, cannot overstate the importance of the Americans in the development of CO2 capture technology. “They have a large apparatus and good funding schemes for accelerating CCS technology development and deployment. We are very pleased that they recognise TCM’s unique expertise and infrastructure. Six different companies have already been and tested. Several of these are now involved in project studies around the world. We hope to see more American technology suppliers in the coming years. Currently have two American companies here, ION Clean Energy and InnoSepra. We will have more information on these two players soon,” Ismail concludes.

Read from NETL’s newsletter.

Representatives from DOE and NETL together with our Managing Director Ismail Shah.

Educational day for the Crown Prince at TCM

– The visit to TCM proved to be both enlightening and educational. Thank you for the exceptional presentations and insightful tour. We wish you continued success in your vital endeavors.

Crown Prince Haakon and his entourage on a tour of TCM. Photo: Veronika Ask Stuksrud

HRH Crown Prince Haakon today visi6 March 2024 visited Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM), the world’s largest and most flexible centre for testing and verifying CO2 capture technologies. Accompanying him on the visit is Sharon Hudson-Dean, U.S. Chargée D’Affaires a.i. in Norway.

The Crown Prince Regent was welcomed by more than a hundred enthusiastic children from kindergartens and schools in Alver and Austrheim and was then given a detailed introduction to the work being done to develop technologies and projects for carbon capture and storage (CCS). Crown Prince Haakon was then given a tour of the plant and shown how CO2 capture technologies are tested in practice. The four-hour visit concluded with lunch.

Focus on the green shift

Crown Prince Haakon is interested in business development and innovation, with a particular focus on environmental issues and the green shift. He believes that technical innovation has an environmental aspect and can contribute to solving the world’s challenges.

At Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM) today, he was told about the testing of CO2 capture technologies and what this means for the development and construction of full-scale carbon capture and storage facilities. TCM’s CEO, Muhammad Ismail Shah, explained that since its opening in 2012, the company has conducted more than 20 test campaigns, mostly for commercial technology providers, but also open, research-based campaigns, which have provided the CCS industry with valuable knowledge about the characteristics of different technologies. The Crown Prince was also briefed on the efforts of TCM’s industrial owners – Equinor, Shell og TotalEnergies – in reducing their carbon footprint and their significant role in TCM.

Longships underway next year

Aker Carbon Capture reported on its involvement in large-scale carbon capture projects. These include the capture plant at Heidelberg Cement’s Brevik plant, which will be operational in 2025 and where the technology has been tested at TCM. The planned capture of 400,000 tons of CO2 per year will be transported to Northern Lights’ receiving facility in Øygarden. From there, it will be transported through pipes under the seabed in the North Sea. This project, which is part of the Norwegian Longship initiative, was also presented to the Crown Prince. Finally, Equinor’s plans to decarbonise the Mongstad oil refinery were presented.

Prepared for an official visit to the USA

The Crown Prince Regent has also recently visited the Bergen Offshore Wind Research Centre at the University of Bergen and attended a seminar for offshore wind industry players. Next month, he will embark on an official visit to the West Coast of the USA to promote business cooperation in green transition and digitalization initiatives.

The Crown Prince was welcomed by more than a hundred children. Photo: Veronika Ask Stuksrud

ION; “TCM Is Unrivaled!”

“To the best of my knowledge, TCM is unrivaled. Without TCM, ION would not be the mature technology that we are today. We are extremely satisfied with the results we have obtained at Mongstad during the winter.”

Since October of last year, Erik Meuleman, Chief Technology Officer of ION Clean Energy. Together with ION’s Research & Development team have conducted a test campaign at TCM on their ICE-31 solvent system. The Dutchman Meuleman joined ION in 2016. The same year as ION was the first US-based CO2 capture company that tested at TCM. “We were a ‘Guinea pig” and laid the ground work for many other US Department of Energy-backed technologies to be further tested at TCM, he says with a smile.”

ION Clean Energy

ION is a dedicated CO2 capture technology company headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. “We have a team of top-notch chemists, numerous engineers with specializations in processes, materials, mechanics, control and automation. As a result, we have strong corporate and administrative support. Currently, we employ 25 professionals and we are experiencing strong, organic growth focused on the continued development of our high-performing teams.”

Chief Technology Officer at ION Clean Energy, Erik Meuleman, has been leading the company’s test campaign at TCM’s amine plant in recent months. “We are extremely satisfied with the results we have achieved,” he says in this interview.

ION’s website boldly promotes your solvent as “The world’s best capture solvent”. You’re not modest.

“How do you substantiate such a claim?” 

“I will outline the key advantages of ICE-31 (.pdf) using three bullet points:

  • Unparalleled Solvent Stability: ICE-31 demonstrates exceptional resistance to oxidative degradation, resulting in an extended solvent lifespan.
  • Favorable Emissions Profile: We have conducted validation tests at TCM to confirm its remarkably low and environmentally friendly emissions profile.
  • Energy Efficiency: ICE-31 maintains high capture efficiency while consuming minimal energy.

The feedback from potential investors and competitors leads us to believe that we have developed something truly exceptional. One of the world’s premier capture solvent systems. If not the best. We eagerly anticipate the moment where independent authoritative third parties corroborate these claims on our new TCM results.” 

“What specific advantages does ICE-31 technology offer compared to competing technologies?”

“The game-changing property of ICE-31 is its exceptional chemical stability in oxidative environments. Feedback indicates that our emissions are very low. If not ultra-low, for a high-performing amine-based system. This enables deep decarbonization of processes with relatively low energy consumption and excellent compatibility with materials.”

Video of CEO Buz Brown’s recent visit to TCM. Hear him talk about ION’s latest test campaign.

Eight years ago, ION tested its ICE-21 solvent at TCM. Now, you have been back with the ICE-31 solvent. Aiming to advance it from TRL 6 to TRL 7.

“Has ICE-21 been shelved, or is ICE-31 an improved version of ICE-21?”

“Indeed, ICE-21 has been successfully developed. And ION designs its capture plants to be adaptable to either solvent. The choice between them is made on a case-by-case basis.” 

“Why did you choose to return to TCM for testing. And what strengths do you see in TCM compared to other testing centers? 

“We chose to return to TCM for several compelling reasons. Among these, several stand out:

  • TCM’s Proven Track Record: TCM boasts a remarkable history of successfully conducting 20X scale-ups, including handling highly confidential data with the utmost trustworthiness.
  • High-Quality Data: TCM excels in providing high-quality data due to its in-depth understanding of the entire process, including operations, major equipment, online measuring devices, and laboratory facilities. This comprehensive knowledge is instrumental in generating reliable results.
  • Credibility with Clients: TCM’s results hold substantial weight in our interactions with both existing and potential clients. This credibility has even attracted the interest of renowned institutions such as LLNL and LBNL, who are keen to explore deep decarbonization and ultra-low emissions using innovative amine-based solvents.
  • Visitor-Friendly Environment: TCM is excellent in welcoming visitors, be they clients, strategic collaborators, or investors. The accommodating and professional atmosphere enhances our interactions and contributes positively to our projects.
  • Meeting OCED Requirements: OCED mandates test results at power levels exceeding 10 MW. Collaborating with TCM allows us to work with the largest and most reputable facilities, aligning with industry standards and expectations.
  • On a personal note, the lunches served at TCM’s canteen are simply top-notch, making our overall experience even more enjoyable.
.
“Both for ION and TCM teams, the learning curve has been steep, but the collaboration is impeccable.”

“How would you describe the progress of testing at TCM since you started in October?”

“Since our project began with the integration of our solvent into the existing TCM plant in October.  There has been significant progress. Both ION and TCM teams have embarked on a steep learning curve, gaining valuable insights into each other’s roles and contributions within this collaboration. Specifically, ION has been delving into the intricate details of the TCM Amine Plant’s flexible operations, while TCM has been deepening its understanding of the unique properties of the ICE-31 solvent.

The hallmark of our collaboration has been outstanding teamwork. We have efficiently addressed and resolved challenges that have arisen along the way, showcasing our collective problem-solving capabilities. As we proceed, we are systematically progressing through the project’s work packages, each of which brings us closer to achieving our objectives.

One of the most significant milestones we have been working towards is demonstrating the capture of CO2 beyond its concentration in the ambient air, a territory that has been uncharted for us. The results we have achieved seem very promising.”

“If, as a result of the testing at TCM, you succeed in advancing ICE-31 from TRL 6 to 7, what would be the next step in introducing the technology to the market?”

“ION is already actively engaged in several projects, and we have garnered the confidence of key industry players who are eager to incorporate our designs and technology. This interest is demonstrated by the visits of prominent companies to TCM during our testing campaign. For instance, we’ve hosted Koch Engineered Solutions, Siemens Energy, and Calpine. All of these companies are in the process of expanding their CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) efforts.

Furthermore, I would consider advocating for advancing to TRL 8 for applications up to 200 ktpa (thousands of metric tons per annum). This expanded scope will enable us to address a broader range of applications and markets. Regardless of the TRL level, it’s crucial to emphasize that testing at a scale larger than 10 MW, as exemplified by TCM, is a prerequisite for securing commercial scale support from the DOE’s Carbon Capture Demonstration Projects Program, which has $2.5 billion in funding to help accelerate the demonstration and deployment of carbon management technologies.”

“How do you perceive the interest in the industry in the USA and potentially in other parts of the world for the solutions ION can offer for full-scale CO2 capture?”

“ION receives numerous inquiries each week, indicating a substantial level of interest in our technology. Notably, there are ongoing public projects that are progressing at full capacity, including those with Calpine (Sutter Decarbonization Project and Delta Energy Center) and Tampa Electric (Polk Power Station).

These capture plants have been meticulously designed to capture carbon dioxide emissions, with each capable of capturing over 1 million metric tons per annum (mtpa). The largest of these projects boasts an impressive capacity of 3.7 mtpa, underscoring the significant scale and impact of our initiatives.”

TCM has served as a testing ground for a wide range of technologies, both mature and emerging, since its inception in 2012, and its owners have decided to continue this mission.

“From your perspective, what significance does the ongoing operation of TCM hold for the CCS industry in the years ahead?”

“The continued operation of TCM is of immense significance for the CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) industry moving forward. Facilities like TCM play a pivotal role in expediting the development of new technologies, such as ours. As far as I am aware, TCM is unrivaled in its capabilities, and I can confidently say that without TCM, ION would not have had the opportunity to evolve into the mature technology that we are today.

By providing a robust platform for testing and validation, TCM not only accelerates the development of CCS technologies but also ensures their reliability and effectiveness in real-world applications. This, in turn, paves the way for the widespread adoption of CCS solutions, ultimately contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the advancement of sustainable practices within the industry.”

“Thank you for taking the time for the conversation, and good luck with your further endeavors!”

 

Crown Prince Haakon Visits TCM

His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon will pay a visit to the Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM) on Wednesday, March 6th. He will be accompanied by the US Chargée D’Affaires a.i. in Norway, Sharon Hudson-Dean.

“We are deeply honored by  Crown Prince Haakon’s interest in visiting TCM. To gain his insights into our work,” says Muhammad Ismail Shah. CEO of the world’s largest and most flexible test center for carbon capture technologies. He will guide the Crown Prince and other distinguished guests through the facility.

HRH Crown Prince Haakon will visit Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM) on Wednesday, March 6 th. Photo: The Royal House of Norway

Crown Prince Haakon

Crown Prince Haakon is known for his keen interest in business development and innovation. Particularly on environmental issues and the green transition. He believes that technical innovation plays a crucial role in addressing global challenges. Recently, he spent a day in Bergen, where offshore wind was on the agenda. During his visit, he toured to the Bergen Offshore Wind Research Centre. Located at the University of Bergen and participated in a seminar for industry players in the offshore wind sector. Furthermore, HRH Crown Prince Haakon is scheduled to make an official visit to the West Coast of the USA from 15-18 April 2024, aimed at promoting business cooperation in the areas of green transition and digitalization.

Cooperation with the USA

At TCM, the US-based carbon capture company ION Clean Energy (video) has successfully completed its second test campaign for the company’s amine-based capture technology, achieving excellent results link to web case. ION also conducted test at Mongstad in 2016, being the first of a number of US companies to use TCM with partial funding from the US Department of Energy (DoE). In addition, InnoSepra is currently testing its technology in the TCM’s area dedicated to new technologies.

Our collaboration with the US government and technology developers has been mutually beneficial,” states Muhammad Ismail Shah. “We are excited to showcase how our contributions have supported the development of technologies now being deployed in large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects in the US.

International Opportunities through Testing at TCM

Furthermore, , several other major technology players have tested at TCM, including Longship, which utilizes Aker Carbon Capture’s technology developed at TCM. All seven major technology suppliers that have engaged with TCM have subsequently initiated projects in various locations worldwide.

Among other distinguished guests expected during the Crown Prince’s visit are Liv Signe Navarsete, Governor of Vestland County, Astrid Bergmål, State Secretary at the Ministry of Energy, Sara Hamre Sekkingstad, Mayor of Alver Municipality, Morten Sognnes, Mayor of Austrheim Municipality, and Kaare Songstad, Commissioner of the Western Police District.

TCM’s CEO to mayors in Nordhordland: “Yes, we can!”

– The world desperately needs cost-effective CO2 capture technologies. Can we in little Norway play a role in providing them? Can we contribute to solving the climate crisis? Yes, we can!

“Yes, we can!” said CEO Muhammad Ismail Shah.

TCM’s managing director, Muhammad Ismail Shah, used Barack Obama’s campaign slogan “Yes, we can”. When he presented TCM’s activities at a meeting with the mayors of Alver, Austrheim, Gulen, Masfjorden and Modalen on Wednesday 21 February. Shah pointed out that the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that by 2050. 1.7 billion tonnes of CO2 will need to be removed directly from the air and water. And 6 billion tonnes through conventional carbon capture and storage to avoid global warming. The capture facilities that have come online to date will capture around 50 million tonnes.

The way forward

– In other words, we have a long way to go. But Norway is leading the way with the Longship project,” says Shah, “We look forward to Heidelberg Materials’s capture facility at Brevik becoming operational with a target of 400,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. In addition Aker Carbon Capture’s capture technology has been tested here at TCM. With the transport to the receiving facility in Øygarden. After that the storage under the seabed in the North Sea, we are up and running. Longship and Northern Lights are just the beginning of a new and important industrial chapter in Norway. Internationally, a number of promising CCS initiatives are in the pipeline, not least in the US – stimulated by President Biden’s mammoth green transition programme, the Inflation Reduction Act.

Good atmosphere at a meeting with local politicians at TCM. From left: Einar Vaage, Project Manager for Greenspot Mongstad, Bernt E. Tysseland, Director of Equinor Refining Norway, Morten Fonnes, Mayor of Austrheim, Geir Egil Haugsvær, Deputy Mayor of Masfjorden, Linda Neset, Mayor of Modalen, May-Lynn Osland, Mayor of Gulen, Sara Sekkingstad, Mayor of Alver and Muhammad Ismail Shah, CEO of TCM.

More than 20 test campaigns

Since its establishment in 2012, TCM has carried out more than 20 test campaigns on various carbon capture technologies. In December last year, an agreement was signed under which the Norwegian state reduced its stake in the company to 34 per cent, while Equinor, Shell and TotalEnergies increased their stakes to 22 per cent each. “The owners have collectively challenged me and all of my employees to ensure that in 2024 and 2025, we position the company for a future where operations will be self-sustaining,” said Muhammad Ismail Shah. “The programme we are implementing to achieve this goal is called TCM 2.0. Can we succeed? “Yes, we can!”

The TCM CEO thanked the mayors present for the support and interest the company has received in the region over the years. They reciprocated by congratulating Shah and his staff on the new operating agreement and wishing them well for the future. They also heard interesting presentations from the new director of Equinor Mongstad, Bernt E. Tysseland, and the project manager for Greenspot Mongstad, Einar Våge, who outlined the plans for the greening of Mongstad.

Folk som sitter og spiser. Foto.

The guests were served a delicious lunch in the TCM canteen before the meeting.