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Tata plans UK's first industrial-scale CO2 capture plant

Tata Group's unit making chemicals in the UK plans to build the country's first industrial-scale carbon capture project.

Photo: /ritzau/AP/Martin Meissner/

The GBP 16.7 million pound (USD 21 million) facility in Northwich, England, is to start working in 2021, Tata said in a statement. It will draw in CO2 created by burning fossil fuels and use it to make sodium bicarbonate, an ingredient in the food and pharmaceuticals industries.

Carbon capture and storage so far struggled to gain traction mainly because of the cost of the technology and because there is no clear business model to make it pay. This project has a twist in that the CO2 will be used by in another process instead of being stored underground. The UK government has a target to reduce its net emissions to zero by 2050.

"We hope that this project will demonstrate the viability of carbon capture and utilization and pave the way for further applications of the technology to support the decarbonization of industrial activity," said Martin Ashcroft, managing director of the Tata unit.

The new plant will take the carbon dioxide from the exhaust gases of a natural gas-fired combined heat and power plant, which supplies steam and electricity to the company's operations and other businesses in the area. The so-called carbon-capture and use plant will be capable of capturing as much as 40,000 tons per year of CO2 and will reduce the chemical facility's emissions by 11 percent.

Tata is funding the development in part with a GBP 4.2 million grant from the UK government, which has a program to spur the technology as a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The nation said Thursday it will provide GBP 26 million to nine projects, including Tata's. It also awarded GBP 4.9 million pounds for a project to capture carbon from bioenergy managed by C-Capture Ltd., a company part financed by BP Plc. Because plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow, such technology could create "negative emissions".

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