CO2 Emissions Under Control Is CCUS the Future of Decarbonizing the Industry?

From Ahlam Rais*

Today, Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) facilities around the world have the capacity to capture more than 40 Mt CO2 each year, according to the International Energy Agency. This figure is set to increase as more countries form CCUS-friendly policies in order to establish these green projects with aim to decarbonize its industrial facilities.

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The global CCUS market generated 1.9 billion dollars in 2020, and is projected to reach 7.0 billion dollars by 2030, witnessing a CAGR of 13.8 % from 2021 to 2030, according to a report by Allied Market Research.
The global CCUS market generated 1.9 billion dollars in 2020, and is projected to reach 7.0 billion dollars by 2030, witnessing a CAGR of 13.8 % from 2021 to 2030, according to a report by Allied Market Research.
(Source: ©hramovnick–stock.adobe.com)

Global net CO2 emissions have to reduce by about 45 percent by 2030 as compared to the levels of 2010 and ultimately reach net zero emissions by 2050 if we want to eliminate the dangers of climate change, opine leading scientific experts from across the world. So, how can the industrial sector which is one of the main contributors of these emissions achieve this goal? Simple, it needs to implement emission reduction technologies and Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS) is considered to be one of the most critical technologies to decarbonize the industry.

What is CCUS?

In simple terms, CCUS is the process of capturing CO2 emissions from fossil power generation and industrial processes and then re-using it or storing it deep underground. Many industrial facilities from leading companies have already adopted or are in the process of incorporating CCUS technologies in their processes. It’s currently being used across diverse industrial segments such as natural gas processing (majority share), fertilizers, chemicals, synfuel, power generation, bioethanol, steel and hydrogen.

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Global share of CCUS projects

In terms of geography, North America contributed to the highest share in terms of revenue in 2020, holding more than two-fifths of the total market share, and is estimated to continue its dominant share by 2030. This is owing to the large scale CCUS projects in the region. However, Europe is projected to manifest the fastest CAGR of 14.4 % during the forecast period, mentions a report by global market research firm Allied Market Research. A large number of projects are also being undertaken in Asia Pacific more specifically in countries such as China, Australia and more recently India.

CCUS projects in action

World’s Most Recent Large Scale CCUS Project

Estimated to capture and store more than one million tons of CO2 a year initially, the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line project will capture CO2 emissions from North West Redwater Partnership’s Sturgeon refinery (1.2–1.4 million tons per year) in Alberta, Canada.
Estimated to capture and store more than one million tons of CO2 a year initially, the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line project will capture CO2 emissions from North West Redwater Partnership’s Sturgeon refinery (1.2–1.4 million tons per year) in Alberta, Canada.
(Source: North West Redwater Partnership)

Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL), the world’s most recent large scale CCUS project is now operational. The project comprises of three segments – carbon dioxide supply and capture from industrial plants, a 240-kilometre pipeline for transportation (Alberta Carbon Trunk Line owned and operated by Wolf Midstream), and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) as well as permanent storage.

Estimated to capture and store more than one million tons of CO2 a year initially, the Canada-based project will capture CO2 emissions from North West Redwater Partnership’s Sturgeon refinery (1.2–1.4 million tons per year) and Nutrien’s Redwater fertilizer facility in Alberta (0.3–0.6 million tons of CO2 per year) and then transport it via the stretched pipeline, which has the capacity to transport up to 14.6 million tons of CO2 annually, to Enhance Energy’s oil and gas reservoirs for EOR operations and storage.

At the Redwater fertilizer facility, the recovered CO2 will be processed through inlet cooling, separation, compression, dehydration and refrigeration to produce liquefied CO2. Whereas, at the Sturgeon refinery, CO2 will be captured within the gasification hydrogen supply plant, which will utilize asphaltene as feedstock to create syngas. The Rectisol acid gas removal technology will be used to condition the syngas and produce more than 3,600 tpd of pure CO2. The captured carbon dioxide from both the plants is then transported to mature oil and gas reservoirs in Central Alberta.

Wolf collaborated with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board to fund 305 million dollars for the project. Apart from this, the Government of Canada has also funded 63 million dollars for the mammoth project. A construction financing of 223 million dollars was granted to the project under the Province of Alberta’s Carbon Capture and Storage Funding Act (2009).

World’s Largest Cross-Border CCS Project

The world’s largest cross-border Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project is being developed by an industry leading consortium in Belgium.
The world’s largest cross-border Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project is being developed by an industry leading consortium in Belgium.
(Source: Port of Antwerp)

The world’s largest cross-border Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project is being developed by an industry leading consortium including the Port of Antwerp, Air Liquide, BASF, Borealis, ExxonMobil, Ineos, Fluxys, and Total. The mega CCS project – ‘Antwerp@C’ will aim to decarbonize the Port of Antwerp which is supposedly one of the largest integrated energy and chemicals clusters in Europe.

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With a potential to reduce CO2 emissions in the port by half by 2030, the Belgium-based project will include numerous shared processing units, a first-of-its-kind CO2 liquefaction unit, interim storage facilities and cross-border transport of CO2 by ship (Northern Lights project) to Norway as well as by pipeline (CO2TransPorts project) to Rotterdam, The Netherlands where the captured carbon may be stored offshore. The two cross-border CO2 transport infrastructure secured funding from the European Union.

The ‘Kairos@C’ project which is jointly developed by BASF and Air Liquide at BASF’s chemical site in Antwerp, Belgium, will kick-start the Antwerp@C project. This project is expected to avoid 14.2 million tons of CO2 in the first 10 years of operation. Air Liquide’s Cryocap technology will be used to capture CO2 from industrial plants along with BASF’s Sorbead solution for drying the CO2.

The large-scale CO2 capture project will be a multi-feed scheme that will optimize and integrate CO2 capture and purification from five different BASF production units in the Antwerp integrated network including two hydrogen plants, two ethylene oxide plants and one ammonia plant. An undisclosed funding for this project has been secured from the European Union under its European Innovation Fund. The project is expected to be operational by 2025.

China’s First Megaton CCUS Project

In the Shangdong Province in China, the China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) has recently completed the construction of the country’s first megaton CCUS project – the Qilu-Shengli Oilfield CCUS. Expected to reduce carbon emissions by 1 million tons annually, the project is made up of two parts i.e. Sinopec Qilu’s CO2 capture and Shengli Oilfield’s CO2 displacement and storage. The project will capture CO2 from Sinopec’s Qilu fertilizer plant in China and then transport it to the Shengli Oilfield for the purpose of enhanced oil recovery. Sinopec’s own CCUS technology system will be used for the project.

The company has also developed a liquid carbon dioxide recovery and utilization unit which includes a compression unit, refrigeration unit, liquefaction refining unit and supporting facilities to recover carbon dioxide from the plant at Sinopec’s Qilu Petrochemical complex.

The transported CO2 will be injected into 73 wells in the oilfield to improve oil recovery and the company expects to reinject 10.68 million tons of CO2 into the wells over a 15 year long period, thus increasing its oil production by a total 22 million barrels. With the assistance of this project, Sinopec intends to achieve its goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2060.

With these numerous projects, it is evident that the race to achieve net zero emissions via CCUS has already begun and will only be accelerating with time. So, to answer the question if CCUS is the future of decarbonizing the industry, the answer is definitely yes!

* The author is a freelance editor at PROCESS Worldwide. Contact: ahlam.rais@vogel.com

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