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Humber Refinery advances carbon-capture project

The Phillips 66 Humber Refinery in the UK is on track to become the first refinery in the world to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions using a technology pioneered by Shell Catalysts & Technologies. 

The companies announced an agreement last week to deploy the Cansolv® CO2 technology to capture carbon produced in the North Lincolnshire, England refinery’s fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) process. The Shell technology will capture at least 95% of the carbon dioxide in the FCC flue gas, compressing it before the gas is transported to be safely stored in geological structures under the seabed in the North Sea. 

Phillips 66 will also work alongside engineering services firm Worley in the Front-End Loading 2 (FEL 2) stage of the design process to build a facility in which the carbon dioxide-capture process will take place. Worley’s role is to integrate Shell’s carbon-capture technology into the Humber Refinery and design the infrastructure required to export the carbon dioxide into the transport and storage network. The projected startup is expected in 2027.  

Humber Refinery General Manager Darren Cunningham, the Lead Executive for Phillips 66 in the UK, described the project as “hugely significant” from a technology perspective. 

“There are more than 300 FCCs in the world,” Cunningham said. “We would be developing technology that has the potential to decarbonize them.” 

The project supports Humber Zero, a first-of-a-kind project backed by UK Research and Innovation, the largest public funder of research and innovation in the UK. Humber Zero is a collaboration between the Humber Refinery and combined heat and power company VPI-Immingham, a subsidiary of commodity trader Vitol, with participation from other businesses, organizations and academic institutions. Its goal is to capture up to 8 million tons of carbon dioxide per annum by 2030. 

“This decision adds momentum to the Humber Zero consortium,” said Project Leader Adam Young. “It will provide added synergies, including increased knowledge-sharing that will directly lower the cost for capture.” 

More than 1,000 people work at the Humber Refinery, and the refinery makes a significant contribution to the local economy. 

“Humber Refinery is tackling the dual challenge of providing the energy the world needs to power human progress while at the same time addressing climate change,” said Cunningham. “We are providing a model for the energy transition.” 

The refinery’s coastal location is ideally situated to help the UK government’s goal of industrial decarbonization, given the plans to take the captured CO2 via pipeline to be stored under the North Sea. The Humber region produces 40% of the nation’s industrial carbon dioxide emissions, so Humber Zero will play a crucial role in the government hitting its 2050 net-zero carbon emission target.