Construction underway on new carbon and capture pilot facility

Comprehensive facility will accommodate wide range of technologies


Construction of TCIC is underway.

Although the completion date is still a year away, the thought of working in a new state-of-the art carbon capture and conversion piloting facility has Dr. Naoko Ellis energized and ready to tackle global-sized emissions challenges.

“I am quite excited and actually can’t wait to do the job that I do best,” says Ellis, Acting Senior Research Director of the Carbon Capture and Conversion Institute (CCCI) and Chemical and Biological Engineering Professor at the University of British Columbia.

Ellis will oversee the CCCI’s research program, much of which will take place in the new facility being constructed on Mitchell Island in Richmond, B.C. When complete in early 2017, the new Technology Commercialization and Innovation Centre (TCIC) will provide technology developers access to specialized equipment, office and lab space.

“This new facility will be the go-to site for anyone, in Canada or internationally, who wants to scale up from bench carbon capture and carbon conversion technologies, especially those focused on capture and conversion from natural gas sources,” says Richard Adamson, President of CMC Research Institutes, the company instrumental in advancing the concept of the CCCI. In keeping with CMC’s mandate to reduce carbon emissions through technology development, the goal of the CCCI is to expedite the commercial implementation of capture and conversion technologies.

Comprehensive range of technologies accommodated at site

There are several features of the Institute that make it unique. For one, the TCIC will be able to accommodate a comprehensive range of technologies from solvent systems, membranes, and sorbents on the capture side, to chemical, electrochemical and even biological systems in the conversion stream. (See CCCI Fast Facts for details.)

TCIC Fast Facts

• Combustion grade CO2 stream, 1-3 tonnes per day

• Gas mixing facility to customize CO2 stream

• Particle size, gas and elemental analysers

• Sorbent testing

• Online monitoring system

• 10 inch water supply, 3 inch distribution

• 2 inch natural gas line with 2 inch distribution

• 2 inch airline

• 30 KVA hot water boiler

• 1200 Amp 600 V electrical service

• High bay area

But perhaps the largest factor that sets the institute apart is the access to engineering and academic experts provided through the three-way collaboration between CMC, UBC and BC Research Inc. (BCRI), which is constructing the TCIC as part of its own expansion plans. For example, if developers run into challenges when piloting technologies at the site, they will have direct access to engineers at BCRI whom have vast experience scaling up technologies, and to scientists at UBC who can examine projects through the lenses of basic and applied research. UBC, the host institution for the CCCI, is also the connection point into CMC’s global network of academic researchers.

Institute an ecosystem of experts

“The Institute is so much more than just a test facility. It’s an ecosystem with all three collaborators bringing experts able to address challenges ranging from basic fundamental science all the way through to commercial implementation. That’s what sets us apart, our attitude that it will take a global collaborative effort to develop the technologies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” says Adamson.

Two years ago, Adamson realized there was a gap in the capture and conversion ecosystem and he approached BC Research Inc. with the concept of developing an institute focused on integration, scale-up and testing. BCRI had been assisting start-up companies’ scale up their processes, including a portfolio of projects in capture and conversion.

Sergio Berretta, BCRI’s Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, says the relationship between the two companies and UBC is a natural and complementary fit.

“We’ve been approached by companies that had very smart scientists working out of their garages or small labs with brilliant ideas and have observed their limited access to the resources necessary to scale-up their technologies,” he says. So when CMC approached BCRI about tailoring a facility towards the needs of the carbon capture community it caught their attention. Ellis and other capture and conversion researchers working under UBC’s Clean Energy Research Centre (UBC CERC) were also interested in pursuing the institute.


Drawing of a portion of the new Technology Commercialization and Innovation Centre being constructed on Mitchell Island.

CCCI sure to draw numerous opportunities

Berretta is optimistic that the CCCI will draw tremendous opportunities because of the escalating interest in managing carbon. And, he says, the unique nature of the Institute will provide clients with services they cannot find elsewhere.

“You have CMC, a not-for-profit organization bringing a network of institutes and people. You have an institution like UBC which is bringing an incredible know-how into basic R&D, and we are bringing into the equation not just experience of how to scale things up, but also experience in how to build a business.”

For information on the CCCI contact Dr. Naoko Ellis at naoko.ellis@ubc.ca or Richard Adamson at richard.adamson@cmcghg.com