SBIR: Rapid Design and Testing of Novel Gas-Liquid Contacting Devices for Post-Combustion CO2 Capture via 3-D Printing

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Ion Engineering Llc
3052 Sterling Circle, Suite 200
Boulder, CO 80301
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
Box 870203
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487


In order to dramatically reduce CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants, and mitigate their impact on global climate change, DOE has called for technologies that can capture at least 90% of CO2 emissions from an existing coal-fired power plant with no more than a 35% increase in the cost of electricity (COE). One process design approach with the potential to achieve these goals is through the use of advanced gas-liquid contacting devices which enable more efficient capture of CO2 with reduced process footprints. However, more cost-effective construction methods and rapid prototyping are needed to deploy these technologies and meet DOE goals. 3-D printing is an “additive” fabrication technique which can offer unprecedented advantages in accelerating the design cycles of gas-liquid contacting devices, minimize manufacturing costs, and expedite deployment timeline for CO2 capture in the field. Functional prototypes can be designed, fabricated and tested within a frame of 24 hours. Because the design process is entirely software-based, devices can be parametrically varied so that effects of surface area, pressure drop, porosity, etc. can be easily understood and used to develop improved devices. The rapid and flexible feedback loop between design, fabrication and testing that can only be provided through 3-D printing will more quickly advance the peformances and lower the costs of novel gas-liquid contacting devices for CO2 capture. Phase I work focuses on the printing and testing of novel-gas liquid contacting devices designed to have smaller footprints and improved operation for post-combustion CO2 capture. Experimental data will be measured to understand contactor performance and simulations will be employed to model results and examine the benefits of proposed design improvements. An economic analysis will be performed to project the long-term benefits of scaling this approach to CO2 capture process design. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: These advanced, low-cost gas-liquid contacting devices will provide highly efficient removal of CO2 (and other contaminants) from flue gas and natural gas, enabling the economical production of clean energy using conventional fuels while minimizing additional costs to the public. Additional applications of devices produced via 3-D printing will extend to many operations such as reactors and heat exchangers.