There is growing interest in possible pathways to cost-effectively decarbonise the production of copper, which is the third-most widely-used metal with a current global demand of 18 million metric tonnes per year. Currently, the majority of the energy required for copper processing is supplied from fossil fuels, so that typically 3.5 - 8 tonnes of CO2 is produced per tonne of copper product. Hence there is a strong need to identify cost-effective pathways to mitigate the life-cycle CO2 emissions associated with copper refining. One potential approach to this is to decarbonise the required fuel through the use of CO2 neutral H2. Moreover, the process of copper refining requires O2, which is currently supplied via CO2 emitting air separation units. Hybrid Sulphur (HyS) cycle is a hybrid between a high-temperature heat source, e.g. concentrated solar thermal energy, and electrolysis. Key drivers for the development of HyS are the much lower requirement for electricity together with the capacity to utilise low-cost thermal energy storage in the CST side of the cycle. In this presentation the potential for the integration of HyS and copper processing for in-situ H2 and O2 production will be assessed.
Senior Research Associate, University of Adelaoide’s Centre for Energy Technology