Power and automation giant ABB, has invested close to £1 million and signed a 10-year agreement with Imperial College London to support a new carbon capture pilot plant teaching facility located at the university’s central London campus.

The pilot plant is the only facility of its kind in an academic institution in the world and ABB hopes that it will help equip undergraduates with the practical skills needed for a career in industry. Using a combination of ABB’s instrumentation, drives, motors and process automation equipment, the control room allows students to gain hands-on experience of industrial plant operations.

Imperial College has granted ABB access to the carbon capture pilot plant for its own use as well. ABB are intending to use the facility for customer demonstrations and training, staff learning such as inter-divisional training, hands on experience for its apprentices and product testing and software evaluation.

“The pilot plant is a global showcase for the latest and best process control and instrumentation technology in use at one of the world’s leading engineering institutions,” says Martin Grady, General Manager, Oil, Gas and Petrochemical – UK, ABB Ltd. “We will be able to trial new technology in a low risk, well-managed environment to gather Beta site test data. It also gives ABB a great platform to train its staff and customers on a real pilot plant. Quite simply, there are very few industrial companies that have utilised all the leading-edge technology that Imperial College is featuring within this pilot plant.”

“By investing in the pilot plant and the awards, we are effectively investing in our own future, by making sure that ABB will have ready access to a stream of bright young engineers,” says Grady. “One of our biggest problems is finding enough suitably qualified engineers to fill the ever growing range of opportunities we can offer. Obviously if engineering in the UK flourishes, then we flourish too.

“The move by ABB is partly in response to government initiatives aimed at rebuilding the manufacturing base of the UK and re-establishing the important contribution that engineering makes to people’s everyday lives.

“The UK needs to increase its base of skilled engineers if it is to grow its manufacturing sector towards its potential. We believe that the pilot plant will support education by giving tomorrow’s engineers hands-on exposure to real-life technology. This pilot plant really brings the real world into the classroom for the first time.”

In recognition of ABB’s support for the new carbon capture pilot plant, Imperial has named the hi-tech centre-piece of the installation the ABB Control Room.

“The pilot plant contributes to making Imperial the leading international centre for practical, hands-on chemical engineering education and training,” says Dr. Daryl Williams, Director of the Pilot Plant Project at Imperial.

“We were looking for a global control and instrumentation partner to work with us on the carbon capture pilot plant. The opportunity for both parties was immense. It provided a once in a lifetime opportunity to influence the training and education of thousands of young chemical engineers over the next 20 years at one of the world’s premier chemical engineering departments.”