Osaki CoolGen, Japan’s CO2 recycling thermoelectric plant

By Maria Roldan

Osakikamijima (Japan), Oct. 27 (EFE).- The Osaki Coolgen thermoelectric power plant will capture and recycle CO2 in Japan, a country highly dependent on fossil fuel, and which is looking to balance emissions reduction and energy supply.

Located on the Osakikamijima, one of four inhabited islands among the more than one hundred in the inland sea of Seto (west), the plant began to operate in a conventional manner in 2009, but five years ago, it set out to study a new business model in the face of this energy transition.

While other major powers are moving their energy strategies away from coal, Japan maintains coal as one of the pillars of its new and recently approved energy plan.

Around 41 percent of the country’s electricity generation is expected to come from thermal sources by 2030.

While this percentage is about half of the current quota of 75.7 percent, it remains the most important component in the plan, complemented by the objective of doubling the use of renewable energy by then, to represent between 36-38 percent.

Japan has set out to achieve decarbonization by 2050, but its high dependence on fossil fuels has led it to seek a different approach, of which the Osaki CoolGen plant is its exponent as it seeks to collect and separate carbon dioxide (CO2) for later storage or recycling.

In Osaki CoolGen, the CO2 emitted during daily activities is used as a resource, according to Kousuke Tanaka, deputy manager of the Japan Coal Frontier’s technology strategy center, one of the companies involved in the project.

The plant generates about 2,500 tons of carbon dioxide a day, of which in recent years, some catch tests have been done on 400 tons to study the effectiveness of the technology and its feasibility.

The project combines, according to its managers, an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) system to produce electrical energy, and CO2 capture and separation technology to reduce emissions.

In a next phase of the pilot test, fuel cells will be added to the IGCC to improve efficiency, they explained.

Recycled CO2 can be multi-purpose. “The main ones are their use in chemicals (such as polycarbonates), in the generation of biofuels or in solid materials such as concrete,” the center’s head Keiichiro Hashimoto told EFE.

Textiles is another potential industry.

Known for its shipping industry, its lemon and blueberry crops, and for being a frequent scene in film productions, Osakikamijima wants to become the worldwide epicenter of carbon recycling research.

The plant is currently being expanded, with a number of venues and laboratories being built nearby for companies, universities and other institutions to carry out research projects.

The plant will be responsible for providing CO2 for the tests, which are scheduled to begin in mid-2022.

At the moment there are four confirmed projects, although the facilities will have capacity for 11.

The studies being conducted include technologies to absorb CO2 in concrete products, which could be commercialized from 2030 onwards.

Another potential use is the creation of aviation biofuels derived from microalgae.

Other projects include the study of DAC (direct air capture) technology for capturing CO2 from the air, with a view to commercializing it by 2050. EFE

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