A new £2m high-tech laboratory to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS) has been opened in Bedfordshire.

The Energy Technology Laboratory at Cranfield University houses a range of near industrial-scale equipment for research and development of clean and renewable energy technologies.

It will support research into carbon capture and transport systems, clean fossil fuel technologies, bioenergy and energy-from-waste by being able to test technologies used for process development, examine materials performance and the reliability of systems and components such as heat exchangers, gas turbine blades and CO2 pipelines.

The facility was opened by Jonathan Holyoak, head of policy for the Office of Carbon Capture and Storage, on behalf of Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) Ministers.

“Carbon capture and storage has huge potential to deliver cost competitive low carbon generation," Jonathan Holyoak said, "but the challenge is how we realise this potential quickly so we can meet our policy objectives in the 2020s. Facilities such as Cranfield’s Energy Technology Laboratory, which is part of the new UK CCS Research Centre, are important in ensuring we are able to achieve this and it is great to see things actually happening.”

John Oakey, professor of energy technology and head of Cranfield’s Centre for Energy and Resource Technology, said: “This new laboratory, which is available for industry and other universities to use, is a great leap forward in the UK's research capability in clean energy technologies.

"With the range of new equipment, much of which is unique to Cranfield, we are able to develop and test ideas through to pre-commercial scale across a wide spectrum of energy from technologies.”

An interim study by the Carbon Capture and Storage Cost Reduction Task Force published last week showed huge potential for the CCS industry, which could bring investment and jobs across the whole energy sector. It confirmed that Carbon Capture and Storage has the potential to compete with other low carbon forms of energy by the 2020s.

Last week, DECC also announced the winners of a £20m competition for innovative projects to reduce the cost of CCS development.

13 projects have been awarded money from the UK’s CCS £125m research and development fund, including NETPower, which is working with Stoke based Goodwins and Toshiba to develop high pressure turbines, and Millennium Generation, which is building a 3MWe carbon capture pilot plant in Stainforth, Doncaster.

Grants worth £18.3m have been agreed so far, which will leverage an additional £18m from project participants. A further £1.8m will go to 13 other projects, involving 14 different universities, to fund research set out in the DECC CCS Roadmap.

Story: David Thorpe, News Editor