Industrial landscape

The Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre

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For more information about IDRIC projects at Imperial College London, contact Professor Anna Korre, IDRIC Research Co-Director.

The decarbonisation of industrial clusters is of critical importance to the UK's ambitions of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. The Industrial Decarbonisation Research and Innovation Centre (IDRIC) brings together academics from across the UK to conduct high-impact multidisciplinary research in support of the UK Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge, which aims to create the world’s first net-zero emissions industrial cluster by 2040 and four low-carbon clusters by 2030. IDRIC's strategic objectives are to:

  • accelerate challenge-led research through transformative innovation;
  • develop leadership by nurturing talent, building capacity and mapping skills;
  • co-create and share knowledge by stimulating cross-learning, active networks and outreach;
  • support policy and mission advocacy by providing evidence to policy makers and the public.

IDRIC at Imperial College London

Professor Anna Korre, Co-Director of Energy Futures Lab, Imperial's energy institute, and Professor of Environmental Engineering at the Department of Earth Science and Engineering, is IDRIC's Research Co-Director and is leading Imperial College London's involvement in the Centre. Imperial academics will lead a range of IDRIC projects on topics including carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), CO2 transport and storage networks, and the use of hydrogen. Find out more about these projects by clicking on their titles below.

IDRIC Wave 1 Projects

Development of an open-source toolkit to design and evaluate the performance of low carbon infrastructure for industrial clusters

This project will develop an open-source toolkit to allow stakeholders to evaluate the performance of different technology and infrastructure options in terms of techno-economics and decarbonisation potential and establish their role within the design of alternative/optimal industrial decarbonisation infrastructure options at cluster level. The tool will also aid decision makers in understanding the cluster needs, and how these may be connected, allowing for the planning of nationally relevant infrastructure.

Principal Investigator: Professor Nilay Shah (Department of Chemical Engineering)

Co-Investigators: Professor Anna Korre (Department of Earth Science and Engineering); Dr Mijndert van der Spek (Herriot Watt University)

Thermodynamic Models for Application in Industrial Decarbonisation

The project will provide new and improved routes to modelling properties and processes involving hydrogen within the area of industrial decarbonisation. It will do this by providing quality-assured parameter sets that will work with existing software to unlock improved thermodynamic modelling. This will enable a reduced uncertainty in the design of CCUS and other decarbonisation process involving hydrogen.

Principal Investigator: Professor J. P. Martin Trusler (Department of Chemical Engineering)

Engagement with Case Studies: Dr Jon Maddy (University of South Wales)

Advanced multitemporal modelling and optimisation of CO2 Transport and Storage Networks

This project aims to develop a multitemporal integrated assessment model to support the planning and design of large-scale, flexible CO2 transport and storage networks. Fast proxy geological storage capacity forecasting tools will be developed, tested and demonstrated, and these will be coupled with Imperial’s transport and storage network optimisation model to allow industrial clusters to evaluate the performance of CCUS network options.

Principal Investigator: Professor Anna Korre (Department of Earth Science and Engineering)

Co-Investigator: Professor Sevket Durucan (Department of Earth Science and Engineering)

Ammonia and hydrogen use for industrial heat and power generation (Part II)

This project aims to de-risk transition and deployment of zero-carbon fuels (ZCFs) by supporting designers and operators of heat and power plants through measurements (for CFD model development and validation), demonstration and life cycle assessment. The project will quantify the ignitability and extinction characteristics of ZCF fuel blends and evaluate the consequences for the operability of internal combustion engines and gas turbines.

Principal Investigators: Professor Yannis Hardalupas and Professor Alex Taylor (Department of Mechanical Engineering)

Electrolysis for green hydrogen and co-produced chemicals at scale

This project focusses on the development of lower cost and scalable electrolyser technology, based around both low and high temperature electrolysers, along with the co-production of other chemicals to improve the process economics. The project will improve understanding of the potential for electrolysis to contribute to the decarbonisation of industrial clusters and provide new insight into the potential for co-generation of chemicals. 

Principal Investigator: Professor Nigel Brandon (Department of Earth Science and Engineering)

Co-Investigator: Professor Anthony Kucernak (Department of Chemistry)

Solid Oxide Electrolysis for CO2 Utilisation

This project aims to demonstrate the applicability of solid oxide electrolysis (SOE) to utilise CO2 from industrial processes in the production of chemicals and fuels. New materials for COelectrolysis will be developed and modelling studies will be conducted to investigate effective modular SOE systems. The project will enable the implementation of a new facility at the University of St Andrews to conduct high temperature and pressure testing of electrolysis type systems. 

Principal Investigator: Professor John TS Irvine (University of St Andrews)

Co-Investigators: Professor Nigel Brandon (Faculty of Engineering); Dr Gerry Agnew (University of St Andrews)

IDRIC Wave 2 Projects

Integrated design and optimisation for nationwide deployment of direct air capture units

Focusing on Direct Air Capture (DAC), this project will develop and demonstrate a model-based framework for integrated design and optimisation of a continuous DAC process based on the proven Temperature Swing Adsorption (TSA) technology. Taking into consideration existing UK industrial clusters, we will identify profiles for DAC operation under regional and time-variant atmospheric disturbances that meet pre-defined productivity and purity requirements, while minimising energy consumption. Unique to our approach is the systematic assessment of the diverse design, economic and energy supply scenarios that arise when the operation of the DAC unit is integrated within UK industrial clusters. 

PIs: Dr Ronny Pini and Dr Maria Papathanasiou

Unintended consequences? Life cycle comparison of UK industrial decarbonisation pathways

This project uses modern life cycle assessment methodologies to identify unintended consequences of decarbonisation approaches, producing in-depth characterizations of key supply chains in UK industrial clusters. The project focuses on the decarbonisation of chemicals, cement and steel production in the Humber, South Wales, Black Country and the Northwest. The results will be used to assess plausible policy and regulation for product emissions, for both domestic production and imports.

PI: Professor Adam Hawkes

An integrated framework for levelled up & low-carbon industrial clusters

This project aims to adapt the JEDI-UK framework to quantify the Gross Value Added (GVA) and employment opportunities deriving from a portfolio of low carbon options for UK clusters.  Data on feasible low-carbon solutions within each cluster, gathered through collaboration with industry, will be used to provide a transparent and coherent quantification of their socio-economic impacts as well the reskilling requirement of the regional labour force. By accounting for local factors, the tool will also provide a quantitative estimation of the levelling up value of the proposed solutions.

PI: Professor Niall MacDowell

VFA to PHA: Decarbonisation - A Route to Sustainable Plastics

This project aims to develop biological routes to produce polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), a naturally occurring biopolymer that can be used to make biodegradable plastics. The research will focus on a method of production that can be deployed at full scale in a cost-effective manner using naturally occurring microorganisms taken from a wastewater treatment plant. The feedstocks used will be volatile fatty acids produced from C1 gases such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide from the steel making industry as well as from wastewater biosolids, optimised by multiple omics techniques and quantum computing platforms developed in the IDRIC Wave One ‘VFA Factory’ project.

PI: Professor Alan Guwy (University of South Wales) 

Co-Is: Dr Po-Heng Lee (Imperial College London), Dr Jamie Massanet-Nicolau (University of South Wales), Professor Marcelle McManus (University of Bath).

Enabling low carbon fuel technology deployment for power and high-temperature heat across the clusters

This project examines the transition to Zero Carbon Fuels (ZCFs) for high-temperature heat and power applications. Scientifically, the project delivers improved understanding of ZCF behaviour in gas turbines, reciprocating engines and furnaces, where operability, product quality, efficiency and emissions are paramount, and currently cannot be predicted. Impact includes deployment of ZCFs in difficult to electrify processes such as metals, glass and chemicals. The research enhances efforts of the Wave 1 projects on “Ammonia and Hydrogen use for industrial Heat and Power Generation” and extends safety and social acceptance considerations. 

PI: Professor Richard Marsh (Cardiff University)

Co-Is: Professor Yannis Hardalupas (Imperial College London), Professor Alex Taylor (Imperial College London), Professor Professor Philip Bowen (Cardiff University), Mr Steve Morris (Cardiff University), Professor Martin Freer (University of Birmingham)


Establishing an Inter-Cluster Batchwise Carbon Capture and Storage Network in the UK

This project will establish an inter-cluster batchwise (i.e., ships, rail and lorries) carbon capture and storage (CCS) network in the UK, to accelerate the decarbonisation of industrial clusters. It will apply Imperial’s Multi-period, Multi-mode, and Multi-objective Mixed integer linear programming model to perform deterministic, stochastic, and multi-objective analysis of the inter-cluster batchwise network opportunities, integrating these with pipeline CO2 transportation networks for UK CCS clusters. The outputs will provide pre-feasibility estimates of costs, infrastructure sizing, and GHG emissions of the network options.

Principal Investigator: Dr Denis Martins Fraga (Imperial College London)

Co-Is: Prof. Anna Korre (Imperial College London), Prof. Jonathan Radcliffe (University of Birmingham) and Prof. Damon Teagle, Prof. Lindsay-Marie Armstrong, Prof. Stephen Turnock (University of Southampton)

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