Negative emission cogeneration technology

Ricardo is designing, installing and operating a combined heat and power demonstrator plant with a carbon negative footprint to showcase climate repairing technology, and demonstrate the effectiveness of community scale negative emission technology plus clean energy using sustainably-sourced forestry waste. 

Negative emission cogeneration technology for energy decarbonisation

Ricardo is leading the UK-Government funded consortium delivering the demonstrator plant. The funding is awarded through the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP) under the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The consortium combines an innovative carbon capture system developed by Ricardo with the hot air turbine technology from Bluebox Energy and pyrolysis technology from Woodtek Engineering. Commissioned and operational in 2023, the demonstrator plant is innovative because it features improved and optimised heat integration, is modular, and community-based: it can generate renewable heat and electricity for up to 300 local homes and businesses. It will also showcase a realistic carbon negative technology that can significantly contribute to net zero targets. 

Energy, utilities and waste
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Negative emission cogeneration technology for food and drink manufacturing

Negative emission cogeneration technology has clear applications for food and drink manufacturers. The rising wholesale price of natural gas and uncertainty over the security of supply of energy and food-grade carbon dioxide mean that globally-renowned food and drinks manufacturers need a solution that can give them reassurance about supply and cost control to ensure that they can keep on making their products. Our combined heat and power plant could be located at a food manufacturing site, be fed by sustainable wood waste from local, indigenous sources at a lower cost than natural gas, and securely and continuously supply clean energy, heat, food-grade carbon dioxide and biochar – which could be sold to the farmers who might well be producing ingredients for the manufacturers. Industry therefore benefits from security of supply and a virtuous circle of production. 

Ricardo innovative carbon negative technology could hold the key to future national energy security
Food And Environment

Negative emission cogeneration technology for farming, agriculture and commercial growers

The technology enables the farming, agriculture and commercial growers sector to cut emissions and benefit from security of supply and a virtuous circle of production. Using sustainably sourced waste wood from domestic timber production the technology captures a significant amount of the carbon content in the wood. It processes the wood to produce biochar (a product similar to charcoal) which can be used by farmers to enrich soil and add to animal feed to reduce ruminant emissions. Our combined heat and power plant could be located on a farm, be fed by sustainable wood waste from local, indigenous sources at a lower cost than natural gas, and securely and continuously supply clean energy, heat, food-grade carbon dioxide and biochar. 

Ricardo innovative carbon negative technology could hold the key to future national energy security
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Negative emission cogeneration technology for the construction sector

The concrete and cement sector intends to go beyond net zero and become net negative: significant carbon reduction will come from carbon capture, usage and storage with biomass considered as a route forwards. Carbon capture plants can make carbon curing - a highly effective and disruptive technology - affordable, accessible and a mainstream option for the concrete industry. Initially, the Ricardo demonstrator will use sustainably sourced forestry waste, but long term could use other wastes as its feedstock. Community-scale biomass-based greenhouse gas removal systems can be located closer to the feedstock, significantly reducing life cycle impacts and upstream emissions. 

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Our key capabilities in negative emissions cogeneration technology

We deliver innovative carbon capture technologies to support the transition to a low carbon future. Our team has over 20 years’ experience in bioenergy and in CO2 capture and utilisation technologies, advising governments worldwide as well as technology and project developers and operators on carbon capture and storage.

Ricardo has proven credentials in supporting governments and policy makers around the world tackle climate change and help meet their national net zero targets. Ricardo has supported clients worldwide in undertaking due diligence of technical, operational, and financial due diligence of carbon capture, utilisation and storage systems. We have also supported clients on technology evaluation and assessment. In 2020, we advised the UK Government on the potential of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) in the UK. We have also undertaken a study on the availability of CO2 from direct air capture (DAC) - a key NET technology - at the EU level to meet ekerosene targets for the aviation industry. 

Following the Paris Agreement and subsequent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2018, CO2 removal from the atmosphere, through negative emission technologies (NETs) or greenhouse gas removal (GGR) options, has become high on the agenda in order to help achieve net zero targets by 2050. The importance of NETs and CO2 removals was highlighted at COP27 in Egypt which emphasised that nature-based greenhouse gas removals such as afforestation as well as engineered solutions including BECCS, biochar and DAC are essential if governments around the world are to meet their net zero targets. The deployment of such solutions will play key role in offsetting residual emissions from hard-to-decarbonise sectors such as aviation and construction.

Our latest study for the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) analysed the potential of BECCS in the UK to 2050. It highlighted: the key role that this technology can play as greenhouse gas removal solution; its role in creating jobs and added value to the UK; and that community scale decentralised BECCS systems can also play a role but with many technical and economic challenges to be overcome. 

Carbon capture, utilisation and storage


Supporting your organisation's adoption of negative emission cogeneration technology to meet your net zero targets and energy transition, find out more about our capability and proven track record in energy decarbonisation

Ricardo is renowned for its engineering solutions to address complex problems. Drawing on our broad expertise and knowledge in carbon capture systems and cogeneration technologies and applying engineering methods and tools developed from the automotive sector, we engineer an innovative and efficient system for capturing carbon from waste. Our expertise in bringing such technologies to market includes: mechanical and electrical design and development, analysis, control software development, systems integration, commissioning and testing.  

The combination of Ricardo’s CO2 capture system with biomass pyrolysis technology from Woodtek offers negative emissions via two well-established GGRs, namely biochar and BECCS, and combined with cogeneration technology from Bluebox Energy provides an excellent opportunity for improved heat integration thus improving overall process efficiency. Heat from CO2 capture can potentially be recovered, upgraded and combined with surplus heat from cogeneration and ultimately fed into district heating systems. This innovative community-scale GGR system is designed to provide CO2 removals and to be sustainable in that it can be located near-by waste resources and where the CO2 can be utilised in processes like concrete curing or mineral carbonation, where it can be permanently stored.

Ricardo has a long track record in supporting clients in the chemical, power generation and refinery sectors on the due diligence of new and innovative capture technologies including membranes, absorption, and adsorption systems. We also have well-established expertise in heating technologies including cogeneration. Using this expertise and knowledge and working with our partners, we developed an innovative system which maximises heat recovery and integration and improves efficiency. This innovation allowed the system to be designed and manufactured in such a way so that the underlying technology becomes affordable and deployable at this scale for the first time. 

Bluebox Energy

Ricardo has been collaborating with Bluebox Energy since June 2020 to deliver innovative technologies that support the transition to a low carbon future.

Since 2014, Bluebox has been developing ultra low carbon combined heat and power solutions for business parks, communities, industrial and farming processes. During that time Bluebox has developed a new method to convert the heat to electricity using its hot air turbine technology. Working with system integrators, Bluebox now has a number of facilities operating around the world.

The technology needs steam at 145ºC to drive the CO2 capture process.  Of the technologies available, only hot air turbines discharge air at a high enough discharge temperature (~400 ºC) to generate steam.  Hot air turbines have a number of other advantages:

  • No need for a condenser, with much reduced ancillary power requirements
  • Non-hazardous fluid (air) is used
  • Easy and fast to start and stop

Woodtek Engineering

Woodtek Engineering is a family-run renewable energy based company specialising in the design, development and manufacture of a range of renewable energy products.

With over 30 years’ experience in engineering and renewable technology, Woodtek Engineering specialises in innovation, equipment, and processes for continuous thermal treatment of many types of waste streams.  The company’s thermal process delivers further emission reduction solutions for operators and local communities as the technology provides heat and power, which can be utilised on site and/or be connected to local homes and businesses.  

Woodtek Engineering’s combustor technology allows close integration of the heat recovery elements that drive the hot air turbine. The company’s scrubber technology, which is integrated into the biochar production, reduces the need for scrubber adjustments and improving the quality of the biochar. 

Supporting the deployment of negative emission cogeneration technology on your site, find out more about our capability in infrastructure programme planning and strategy

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Gareth Milton BW

Dr Gareth Milton

Control Function Lead

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Josh Dalby Bw

Joshua Dalby

Cross-functional technical authority

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Richard Gordon

Richard Gordon

Project Director and Fuel Cells Technical Authority

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