Tata Steel, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water (DCWW) and other industries within the South Wales Industrial Cluster (SWIC) are significant emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs) including CO2, CO and CH4. These industries are actively seeking to decarbonize these emissions. The economic costs of decarbonization are reduced if carbon is converted to valuable platform chemicals such as volatile fatty acids (VFAs), instead of being captured for disposal or converted into GHGs such as CH4. There is a large market for VFAs valued at over €1.5 billion growing at 15% p.a. USW has developed several microbial conversion technologies which convert waste carbon in gas streams and biomass to VFA.
USW has demonstrated the feasibility of these processes, but challenges remain concerning intensification and scaleup to accommodate large carbon emissions from industries within SWIC; for example, Tata Steel produces 146,878 m3/h of CO and CO2 at its South Wales site alone. Alongside technical challenges, resistance to change must be addressed by showing how these processes can be incorporated into industries that typically have long development and investment cycles. This will involve producing detailed lifecycle analyses (LCA), and technoeconomic assessments (TEA) of the processes being developed, which will be undertaken in conjunction with project 44.