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Future Drinking Water Levels of Nitrosamines and Nitramines near a CO2 Capture Plant (FuNitr)

FuNitr will yield new knowledge and tools directly applicable to the safe realisation of CO2 capture technology, and thereby supporting the Norwegian Longship project for CO2 capture and storage. 

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About the project

Technology for CO2 capture is one of the key mitigation options to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. However, we must ensure that its implementation proceeds with minimum negative local impacts. One concern is the risk of contaminating nearby drinking water compartments with carcinogenic and potentially carcinogenic nitrosamines (NSA) and nitramines (NA), respectively. Formation occurs in the air through degradation of volatile amines. The amines are used to capture the CO2, but small amounts will unintentionally escape with the treated flue gas (see Figure 1 for details).

In Norway, a recommended drinking water limit is set at 4 ng L-1 for the sum of NSA and NA. For regulatory purposes, this translates into amine emission permits. However, to go from NSA and NA levels in e.g., a lake to amine emissions from a nearby CO2 capture plant is extremely challenging since it encompasses a range of complex processes. The method currently in use can be considered to produce “worst case” amine emission permits. This is because of its many simplifications and large uncertainties related to the many processes involved.


The aim of the FuNitr project is to improve the method used to calculate the amine emission permits, and to generate new knowledge to reduce the uncertainty of key processes involved. By doing so, FuNitr aspires to contribute to the safe and cost-efficient implementation of CO2 capture technology.

FuNitr is a 4-years collaborative project (started in Q2/2023) funded by the Research Council of Norway (project number 336357) via the CLIMIT programme. The project is led by NIVA, in collaboration with University of Oslo (UiO), Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU), Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), and the industrial partners of Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM), Hafslund Oslo Celsio (Celsio), and Aker Carbon Capture (ACC).

Figure text: Amines escaping a CO2 capture plant. In the atmosphere the amines are degraded to form nitrosamines (NSA) and nitramines (NA). These will deposit on ground and partition to the aqueous phase, concerning drinking water sources.

Work packages

WP1 – Improved Atmospheric Model

A new atmospheric model will be developed to realistically simulate NSA and NA formation and deposition near amine-based CO2 capture plants. A fundamental new approach will be taken by focusing on the incorporation of plume turbulent dispersion and mixing with the atmosphere. The gas phase reaction mechanisms of amines, NSA, and NA will be included, and the output will cover NSA and NA wet and dry deposition and atmospheric concentrations.


WP2 - Validating the atmospheric model

The new model, developed in WP1, will be validated with measured data from two different types of experiments: 1) laboratory studies investigating the atmospheric chemical transformations of amine-treated flue gas, and 2) in-situ measurements in the plume emitted from the full-scale CO2 capture plant. The former will be conducted at TCM where they have a small laboratory placed on top of the absorption tower. In-situ plume measurements will be made possible by equipping a helicopter with state-of-the-art instrumentation.

WP3 – Assessing the biodegradability of NA

Once the NSA and NA have deposited on ground, numerous processes will interplay to govern final levels in water. The NSA will rapidly degrade from sunlight, while this is not the case for the NA. Biodegradation can potentially remove NA from the environment, and the process can take place in waters, soils, and sediments. The biodegradability of NA will be explored experimentally by focusing on the role of the natural inoculum and the effect from varying environmental conditions.  

WP4 – Atmospheric-catchment simulation

To realistically simulate future levels of NSA and NA in water compartments a modelling tool will be created to simulate the complete and interdisciplinary picture from amine emission to NSA and NA water levels. The new atmospheric model, developed in WP1 and validated in WP2, will be combined with an existing catchment model. Results from WP3 will be included into the model. A longer time series (~20 years) will be simulated to assess potential accumulation of NSA and NA with time. The tool will be demonstrated at suitable case study sites.

WP5 – Open access management tool

To make the advanced modelling tool (WP4) available for the stakeholders, a user-friendly web-interface will be developed. The website will visualise, in a simplified manner, the complex estimates and considerations taken by the model. The user can easily adjust settings on a selected range of input variables, such as CO2 capture operational conditions, to see the instant effect on NSA and NA level in a nearby water compartment.  The objectives of the tool are guidance and communication.