Monoethanolamine (MEA) is the solvent most commonly considered for post-combustion capture. However, the solvent will accumulate a range of contaminants during use, notably heat stable salts, that reduce its performance. This work considers the removal of these contaminants from MEA solutions that had been exposed to over 50 and 1800h of post combustion capture of flue gases from a brown coal-fired power station. Analysis indicated that these MEA solutions contained significant quantities of heat stable salts including iron, potassium, sulphate, nitrate and organic anions, particularly in the older sample. Both solutions were initially neutralised to free the protonated amine, which led to precipitation of some impurities within the older solvent. Nanofiltration was considered as an approach to further concentrate impurities, but was ineffective due to low permeation rates and low rejection of monovalent salts, at less than 20%. It was effective in concentrating metal contaminants and may be useful into the future for this reason. Conversely, electrodialysis was effective in removing up to 91% of the ionic content of the solutions, although the current efficiency fell at low feed conductivities. Monovalent salts such as sodium, potassium and nitrate were removed more readily than multivalent salts such as iron and sulphate. MEA loss was consistent with our prior work at around 0.15g/m2s and was predominantly as the free amine rather than the carbamate salt.
Post-combustion capture (PCC) of CO2 from fossil fuel-fired power station flue gas is one of many technologies that are being developed to reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in the medium term. Wet-gas scrubbing using aqueous amines is currently the most mature PCC technology suitable for separating CO2 from coal-fired power station flue gases. In this study, a series of twelve samples of a degraded 30% (w/w) MEA absorbent were obtained over a six month pilot scale PCC campaign at a brown coal-fired power station in Australia. These samples were used to investigate the accumulation of heat-stable salts, inorganics and minerals. The heat-stable salts concentration increased from 0.80 to 2.29% (w/w, as MEA) and organic acids from the oxidative degradation of MEA were the largest component of heat-stable salts. Acid gases such as SOx and NOx, make-up water, ultra-fine fly-ash and corrosion were all sources of the minerals and inorganics that accumulated in the aqueous MEA absorbent. Corrosion was the single biggest contributor of transition metals and the abrupt change in ratios of Fe, Cr and Mo suggests that the dominant corrosion mechanism may have changed towards the end of the campaign. The rapid accumulation of minerals and inorganics during this PCC campaign highlights the importance of continuing research into the interactions between amine absorbents and inorganic or mineral contaminants. The data presented in this study are an important resource for design of laboratory scale experiments to investigate these physical and chemical interactions between aqueous amines, minerals and inorganics.