Page last updated at 22:01 GMT, Wednesday, 3 September 2008 23:01 UK

Access all areas: Schwarze Pumpe

BBC News has been given exclusive access to the world's first coal-fired power plant to integrate carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology into a pilot-scale site.

Below, Philippe Paelinck, Director of CO2 for energy company Alstom, takes you on a guided tour of the 30-megawatt plant at Schwarze Pumpe, Germany.

Boiler houseAir SeparationEnter alt textEnter alt textC02 compression unit


Schwarze Pumpe: Air Separation

The Air Separation facility removes nitrogen, which makes up 78% of air.

Once the nitrogen has been removed, the remaining product is an almost pure stream of oxygen that can be pumped into the Boiler House.


Schwarze Pumpe: Boiler Room

This is where the coal and oxygen is combusted to produce the heat that generates the steam.

Because the coal/oxygen mix burns at a very high temperature, some of the flue gas is pumped back into the boiler to reduce the overall temperature.

The steam would normally be used to power a turbine to generate electricity, but the plant at Schwarze Pumpe is piping the steam to a nearby industrial estate.


Schwarze Pumpe: Gas cleaning

Before it is possible to capture the CO2, the flue gas from the boiler needs to be clean.

This involves removing small particles called fly ash and sulphur dioxide, which causes acid rain if it is released into the atmosphere.


Schwarze Pumpe: CO2 Compression

The remaining gas is an almost pure stream of CO2.

This means it can now be cooled and compressed, which turns it into a liquid.

Once compressed to one 500th of its original volume, the liquefied CO2 is held in storage tanks before being transferred to tankers, which will transport it to the geological storage site.


Schwarze Pumpe: Control room

The Control Room is where the entire site is managed and monitored.

Because it is a pilot project, it will also gather key data on the carbon capturing process that will be used to develop the technology.

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