30th June 2022
UK’s first industrial-scale carbon capture and usage plant
Tata Chemicals Europe has opened the UK’s first industrial-scale carbon capture and utilisation plant in Northwich, Cheshire.
The plant seen here will capture 40,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year – 100 times more than the UK’s current largest facility and equivalent to taking 20,000 cars off the roads. The £20 million investment has been completed by Northwich-based Tata Chemicals Europe, one of Europe’s leading producers of sodium carbonate, salt and sodium bicarbonate.
The project will help to unlock the future of carbon capture and utilisation, as it proves the viability of the technology at a large scale, removing CO2 from gas power plant emissions for use in high-end manufacturing applications.
In a world-first, the captured emissions are being purified to food and pharmaceutical grade, then used as raw material for a form of sodium bicarbonate that will be known as Ecokarb. This unique and innovative manufacturing process is patented in the UK, with further patents pending in key territories around the world. Ecokarb will be exported to more than 60 countries.
The new facility, supported by a £4.2m grant from the UK’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), marks a major step towards sustainable manufacturing. It will enable net zero sodium bicarbonate and some of the lowest carbon footprint sodium carbonate products in the world. These will include essential everyday items like glass, washing detergents, pharmaceuticals, food (such as baking soda), and animal feed, as well as products required for water purification. Much of the sodium bicarbonate will be used in haemodialysis to treat people living with kidney disease.
“The completion of the carbon capture and utilisation plant enables us to reduce our carbon emissions, whilst securing our supply of high purity CO2 – a critical raw material, helping us to grow the export of our pharmaceutical grade products across the world,” said Martin Ashcroft, Managing Director.
“With the support of our parent company, Tata Chemicals, and BEIS, we have been able to deliver this hugely innovative project, enabling our UK operations to take a major step in our carbon emissions reduction journey. Since 2000, we’ve reduced our carbon intensity by 50% and have a clear roadmap to reduce this by 80% by 2030.”
A second carbon capture project is now being considered – either at this site, or at a nearby salt plant. Ashcroft says it is vital that the UK government invests in two “clusters” of carbon capture in the north-west and north-east of England. In addition to the environmental benefits, up to 50,000 new jobs could be created from this technology in the UK by 2030.
“Manufacturing has been key to this area for over 150 years, so it’s great to be part of such an historic moment,” said Mike Amesbury, MP for Weaver Vale, speaking at the opening of the plant. “Even though, today, there are many competing agendas, sustainability is still crucial, and we must continue working towards Net Zero. The investment made by Tata Chemicals in this leading-edge carbon capture plant will not only support the reduction of CO2 emissions here, but it will also pave the way for others to use this technology. Tata Chemicals Europe helps support over 1,000 jobs, so this type of sustainable investment will help secure chemical manufacturing in Cheshire for future generations.”
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