A consortium led by Dutch energy consultant KEMA is seeking Chinese partners for demonstrating a new water capture technology, with the potential to turn power plants from water consumers into water producers.
KEMA’s water capture technology, CapWa, has already proven its ability to produce consumption-quality water from factory chimney smoke, with several large-scale demonstration projects in the Netherlands and Germany demonstrating capture of at least 40% of the water in flue gas.
At this scale, the amount of water saved from a 400MW power plant corresponds to the annual consumption of about 3,500 western households.
The technology has huge potential in China. “There is an imbalance of… coal and water resources in China,” says KEMA engineer Ludwin Daal. “Currently a lot of coal is being transported from the [arid] North of China to the South and East, putting stress on the rail system. It is easier to transport electricity.”
A recent EU demonstration project of CapWa in China, fell through before funding was secured, but Daal says the consortium is undeterred and will continue to try to find demonstration projects in China. “Unfortunately in our first attempt we just did not make it in the final round,” he says. “But we will try again and rest assured we will do our best,” he says, talking from the sidelines of Tsinghua University’s 7th International Symposium on Coal Combustion
According to Thijs Aarten, chairman of the Executive Board of KEMA, China has made significant steps to improve the sustainability of its industry. “Many countries around the world can certainly learn from the great efforts being made in China,” he says. “I am convinced that this clean technology to convert water vapor into industrial and drinking water and to capture CO2 can add further value to the Chinese industry; both in terms of sustainability, as well as economic benefits.”
According to Daal, the technology has the potential to not only supply power plants and factories with their own process water requirements but also for other industries and communities near the plant. “More water can be captured than is needed for the power plant needs,” he says.
Daal says any industrial process that has a wet gas stream can be of interest for the water capture technology. While the technology can make a process self-sufficient in its water requirements, it can also provide energy savings in the re-use of dehumidified flue gases which would normally be wasted.
“For some applications the water will be the business case while for others the energy savings can be of interest,” he says. According to Daal, the overall energy efficiency improvement of a plant can be expected of about 1% (financial benefit), which roughly translates to a 2.5% CO2 reduction.
Of the existing demonstration projects, the paper company in Netherlands, for example, was interested in the energy savings while the paper company in South Africa was more attracted by the potential water savings.