Negative emissions pioneer Drax announces new CCUS projects during Energy Minister’s visit

Negative emissions pioneer, Drax Group is continuing to develop ground-breaking carbon capture technologies through new partnerships and pilot projects, putting UK businesses at the forefront of efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

Drax has announced a new partnership with cleantech company Econic Technologies to explore the potential for using captured carbon dioxide from its biomass power generation to displace oil in the production of plastic products, using its pioneering catalyst technology.

The partnership marks a major step towards enabling other businesses, including in the automotive, consumer and construction sectors, to produce more sustainable polyurethane products. Econic’s catalyst technology could save as much as the equivalent of four million petrol cars’ worth of CO2 per year in this first market alone.

A new pilot plant has also been installed at the power station in North Yorkshire, by Deep Branch Biotechnology to explore the feasibility of using Drax’s CO2 emissions to make proteins for sustainable animal feed products – technology which could enable the agricultural sector to decarbonise.

The Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, UK Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth visited the CCUS Incubation Hub at Drax Power Station, to see for himself the pioneering work taking place.

Drax was the first company in the world to announce an ambition to be carbon negative by 2030 when CEO Will Gardiner spoke at COP 25 in Madrid. By applying BECCS technology to its biomass generating units Drax would remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it produces across the whole of its operations, creating a negative carbon footprint for the company.

Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO said:

“Drax’s ambition is to be carbon negative by 2030.  Having pioneered the use of sustainable biomass, Drax now produces 12% of the UK’s renewable electricity. With the right negative emissions policy for BECCS, we can do much more, removing millions of tonnes of emissions from the atmosphere each year.

“By working with innovative tech companies like Econic and Deep Branch Biotechnology, we are exploring new opportunities for clean growth, which could be critical not only for beating the climate crisis, but also in enabling a just transition, protecting jobs across the North – delivering for the economy and the environment.”

Kwasi Kwarteng MP and Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO during a tour of the Drax Power Station site.

Kwasi Kwarteng MP and Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO during a tour of the Drax Power Station site.

Econic Technologies will test the CO2 being captured from Drax’s successful one tonne a day BECCS pilot at its own industrial pilot facility, to assess its suitability for producing polymers used in polyurethane plastics.

Leigh Taylor from Econic Technologies discussing the polyurethane products made using waste CO2 with Kwasi Kwarteng MP and Jason Shipstone, Drax VP Innovation

Leigh Taylor from Econic Technologies discussing the polyurethane products made using waste CO2 with Kwasi Kwarteng MP and Jason Shipstone, Drax VP Innovation

Dr Rowena Sellens, Econic Technologies CEO, said:

“Tackling climate change requires collaboration at all levels, and the Econic and Drax partnership is a significant step forward as industries establish viable, sustainable solutions. This project has the scope to unlock the endless potential of CO2 across a vast number of sectors. We’re confident that the CO2 being captured by Drax will be suitable for use in our process, meaning that we could move forwards to explore potential commercial opportunities together and accelerate the roll-out of both our technologies and their positive climate impact.”

Robert Mansfield from Deep Branch Biotechnology, with samples of the protein it will produce using CO2 from Drax, outside the company’s new pilot plant within Drax’s CCUS incubation area

Robert Mansfield from Deep Branch Biotechnology, with samples of the protein it will produce using CO2 from Drax, outside the company’s new pilot plant within Drax’s CCUS incubation area

Drax is also working with a number of businesses to deliver a Zero Carbon Humber by 2040 – CO2 from Drax and other industrial emitters across the region, could be captured, transported and then stored under the North Sea creating the UK’s first zero carbon industrial cluster in line with UK government targets.

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