Northwich-based Tata Chemicals Europe (TCE) has officially opened the UK’s largest carbon capture plant, signaling a key milestone in the race to meet the UK’s net-zero targets.
Built with an investment of £20 million, the first industrial-scale carbon capture and usage plant in the UK captures 40,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year – equivalent to taking over 20,000 cars off the roads and reducing TCE’s carbon emissions by more than 10%.
TCE is one of the leading producers of sodium carbonate, salt, and sodium bicarbonate in Europe. These chemicals are crucial components of a wide range of everyday use items ranging from glass, washing detergents, and pharmaceuticals to food, animal feed, and water purification. TCE’s facility in Northwich, Cheshire, is the only facility in the UK that produces these chemicals.
The carbon capture project will help unlock the future of carbon capture in the UK as it demonstrates the viability of the technology to remove carbon dioxide from power plant emissions and use it in high-end manufacturing applications.
In a world-first, carbon dioxide captured from energy generation emissions is being purified to food and pharmaceutical grade and used as a raw material in the manufacture of sodium bicarbonate which will be known as Ecokarb. Ecokarb will be exported to over 60 countries around the world, generating tens of millions of export revenue every year. Much of the Ecokarb generated using this process will be exported for use in hemodialysis to treat people living with kidney disease.
“The completion of the carbon capture and utilization (CCU) demonstration plant enables us to reduce our carbon emissions whilst securing our supply of high purity carbon dioxide, a critical raw material, helping us to grow the export of our pharmaceutical-grade products across the world,” said Martin Ashcroft, Managing Director of Tata Chemicals Europe.
The company says it has removed its carbon intensity by 50% and has a clear roadmap to reduce this by 80% by 2030.
“This cutting-edge plant, backed by £4.2 million government funding, demonstrates how carbon capture is attracting new private capital into the UK and is boosting new innovation in green technologies,” Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said. “We are determined to make the UK a world leader in carbon capture, which will help us reduce emissions and be a key part of the future of British industry.”
Already generating heat and electricity from one of the most efficient combined heat and power plants in the UK, TCE now produces half the amount of carbon dioxide per kilowatt of electricity generated compared to a typical gas-fired power station.