Carbon Capture

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a technology that can capture up to 90% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions produced from the use of fossil fuels in electricity generation and industrial processes­ (such as making cement, steel or in the chemical industry).

The first stage in the CCS chain is the capture of CO2 released during the burning of fossil fuels, or as a result of industrial processes; then the CO2 is transported and stored, either underground in depleted oil and gas fields or deep saline aquifer formations.

The aim of CCS processes is to prevent the release of large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere from heavy industry. It is a potential means of mitigating the contribution to global warming and ocean acidification of carbon dioxide emissions from industry and heating.

Carbon dioxide can be captured directly from the air or from an industrial source (such as power plant flue gas) using a variety of technologies, including absorption, adsorption, chemical looping, or membrane gas separation technologies.

Various organisations, including IPCC, have identified CCS as a crucial tool for realising the Paris agreements on climate action (i.e. achieveing the goal of maintaining global temperature rise at 1.5°C). The capture and storage of CO₂ presents new opportunities to reduce CO₂ and to support the transition toward a biobased, renewable or circular business model.

Captured CO2, for instance, can be used directly to carbonate beverages, or for enhanced oil recovery (the largest current use), or it can be transformed, via a wide variety of chemical processes, into materials or feedstocks. One of the chemical conversions with the biggest potential is combining CO2 with hydrogen to make synthetic hydrocarbon fuels.

The oldest operating industrial CCS project is Terrell Natural Gas Processing Plant in Texas. Here, CO2 is captured during gas processing and eventually injected in an oil field and other secondary sinks for use in enhanced oil recovery. The facility, which was opened in 1972, captures an average of 0.4 to 0.5 million tons of CO2 per annum.

In Europe, a new project is under development: expected in 2021, the Port of Rotterdam CCUS Backbone Initiative aims to implement a "backbone" of shared CCS infrastructure to be used by several businesses located around the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The objective is to capture and sequester 2 million tons of carbon dioxide per year starting in 2020 and increase this number in the future.