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Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage

SETIS Magazine, 
January 2016

Why is CCU an important technology option for Europe?

Europe is a world leader when it comes to innovative and key enabling technologies. The chemical and biotechnological industries, and also the processing industry, are strong and major drivers of economic growth. CCU technologies will play a major role in the future when it comes to adapting to the changing raw material market – in the energy sector as well as in the chemical sector. CCU can deliver solutions to major challenges: To support the transition of the energy system towards fluctuating renewable energies, CCU technologies can provide the means for large-scale energy storage with minimal land use requirements. It can also support the transition of the transport sector by providing technologies for clean fuel production from non-fossil sources with an extremely low carbon footprint. A major contribution is, however, the provision of an alternative raw material base for the chemical industry. By developing CO2-based production routes for base chemicals, the dependency on fossil carbon sources of the chemical industry and all subsequent production routes will decrease. Furthermore, as an additional benefit, all these factors also help to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions significantly.

Many see CCU as an enabler to CCS, others as a pathway to new industrial opportunities. What is your opinion?

In Germany, there is no debate about CCS anymore. CCS has a very bad image in Germany and has basically been rejected by the German public and media. Hence, CCU is not seen to have any connection with CCS. On the European level however, CCS is still a topic. I believe though, that the two technologies do not have much in common. First of all, there are the costs: CCS is basically a non-profit technology, where every step is costly. CCU however has the potential to produce value-added products that have a market and can generate a profit. Secondly, the primary aim of CCS is the mitigation of climate change by storing large amounts of carbon dioxide underground. There is no inclination to add value to the captured carbon. In contrast, CCU’s major driver is to substitute fossil carbon as a raw material by recycling CO2. CCU and CCS are related technologies with regard to carbon capture, but CCU should not be limited as being just an enabler for CCS, as it can do so much more than simply deposit carbon dioxide underground.

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The chemical valorisation of CO2 has the potential to define a new landscape and business opportunities for European industry in the next decades, and contribute to addressing major challenges such as energy security, resource efficiency and growth through breakthrough concepts and new business models in the long run.

Why is CCU an important technology option for Europe? A range of technical solutions is required to fight climate change. Among these, the capture and storage of CO2 (CCS) emissions from fixed sources such as power plants or manufacturing industries could help to achieve emission reduction targets.

Intelligent processes now enable the capture and conversion of atmospheric CO2 into environmentally friendly fuels. Cleantech firms Climeworks and sunfire have developed complementary technologies which facilitate both the effective filtering of CO2 out of the air and highly efficient hydrogen production.

Why is CCU an important technology option for Europe? Carbon dioxide is an under-exploited resource that we really should use to produce value added materials - materials that can replace fossil oil as a petrochemical feedstock.

Global CO2 emissions are steadily rising rather than falling. Steps taken to date to curb emissions have clearly been inadequate. A contribution could be made by the chemical industry by using CO2 as a new building block for high-value plastics. Doing so would both conserve fossil resources and help the climate.

ROAD is the Rotterdam Opslag en Afvang Demonstratieproject (Rotterdam Capture and Storage Demonstration Project) and is one of the largest, integrated Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) demonstration projects in the world. ROAD is being developed by Maasvlakte CCS Project C.V., a joint venture of E.ON Benelux and ENGIE Energie Nederland (known as GDF SUEZ Energie Nederland N.V. prior to April 2015).

The beneficial re-use of discarded materials is an essential part of a circular economy. The recycling of process waste–based products directly into the materials supply chain results in considerable sustainability gains and drives innovation. The process presented here involves the use of both solid and gaseous waste in combination to produce aggregate for use in concrete.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) in geological formations is a promising tool for reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to the atmosphere. As the name suggests, there are two core processes involved here - the capture of carbon dioxide at its source, and its subsequent storage in such a way as to prevent its entry into the atmosphere.

Worldwide anthropogenic emissions of CO2 are estimated at 37 Gt in 2013. The cement industry accounts for 2 to 2.5 Gt CO2/year i.e. between 5.5 % - 6.5 % of total emissions. Our industry represents an important share of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide and the consumption of cement and concrete is going to increase in the coming years due to both economic development and growth in the global population.

Currently, 130 million tonnes per year of CO2 are used in industrial processes, including enhanced oil recovery (EOR) - 60 million tonnes; urea / fertiliser production - 36 million tonnes; and in other applications such as the food and beverage industry. This quantity could be multiplied by a factor of five in 2030 as new uses emerge.

The European steel industry has made tremendous past efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. The CO2 emissions in conventional steelmaking have been reduced from 3.5 t/tonne of steel down to as low as 1.7 t/tonne. The same effort has been made in electrical steelmaking, leading to huge reductions in energy consumption of up to 50%.

Over the next 35 years the world population is likely to grow to over 9 billion people according to the UN. This will put immense strain on the earth’s natural resources which are already feeling the impact of climate change. To put this in context: the average human consumes about 2500 calories per day.

Carbon dioxide utilisation for the production of fuels, chemicals and materials has emerged as a possible complementary alternative to CO2 storage and as a promising source of competitive advantage for European industry. In order to contribute to the on-going debate regarding the potential of CO2 utilisation as a CO2 mitigation tool and the competitiveness of carbon...

The main causal factor of climate change is the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. As natural processes will be insufficient to absorb future anthropogenic CO2 emissions, it is generally agreed that carbon capture, use and storage technologies are the optimal way to tackle this problem, by capturing CO2 and converting it for reuse or storage, thereby preventing its release into the atmosphere.

On the basis of the Council conclusions from March 2014, and the continued pressure to lower CO2 emissions and find alternatives to fossil fuels, the Commission together with Cefic (The European Chemical Industry Council) took the initiative to organise a scoping workshop "Transforming CO2 into value for a rejuvenated European economy", which took place on 26 March 2015.