Reflections on carbon capture and storage

Three experts, including Nynas Sustainability Manager Dr. Tallal Belkheiri, discuss the potential of technologies for capturing carbon dioxide generated by burning fossil fuels before it is released into the atmosphere.

DR. Tallal Balkheiri

TITLE: Sustainability Manager
BACKGROUND: Tallal has a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg and a Master’s degree in Energy Engineering from École des Mines de Douai, France.

"The optimal solution may involve a combination of several technologies."

"Nynas has set ambitious goals for achieving carbon neutrality, developing a roadmap that outlines technological and investment choices to be implemented. While progress is underway for this target, which involves exploring various technological solutions such as using electrolysis for hydrogen production instead of natural gas steam reforming and utilising biogas for heaters or steam reforming, we are also investigating options like Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU).

Both CCS and CCU are technologies to mitigate CO2 emissions, with different approaches. The first one is based on storage of CO2 after capture from refinery processes, injecting it deep into the ground, while the second is based on creating value from the CO2 stream by converting it into valuable products.

For refinery or chemical process industry like Nynas, the choice between CCU and CCS depends on several criteria, such as the scale of emissions, economic viability and the potential for value creation. Each technology has its strengths and weaknesses, and the optimal solution may involve a combination of both CCS and technologies like electrolysis and biogas.

While CCU presents challenges in terms of cost and market viability for its products, CCS emerges as a promising alternative, especially if there are synergies between industries in the region and a well-developed storage market with viable solutions. Nynas is closely monitoring advancements in these technologies and exploring various alternatives in line with industry trends."

Jemima Bruin-Bland

TITLE: Global Lead Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage & UK Energy Transition Strategy
BACKGROUND: Senior Manager Energy Transition Infrastructure Projects, Shell; Manager, KPMG Infrastructure Advisory

"The problems are steadily being addressed and solved by innovators around the world."

"Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the only way to remove from our atmosphere and safely, reliably, and permanently store the emissions which are now causing global climate change. That includes both present and past emissions, via the newly emerging technology set, Direct Air Capture (DAC). CCS is also a source of global growth and sustainability. It’s projected to see 100% year-on-year global growth from 2030, with $13.4bn already invested in 198 CCS projects worldwide by the end of the 2022/23 financial year, according to Bloomberg and the International Energy Agency.

The problems CCS still has – around the efficiencies of capture technologies, the integration of complex storage systems, the space to add capture to congested industrial sites, and the commercial and regulatory models needed – are steadily being addressed and solved by innovators around the world.

New techniques to capture carbon dioxide such as solid adsorption, often using Metal-Organic Framework (MOF), filters as an alternative to chemical (amine)-based capture, modularisation and improved designs of capture units, and marine-based transport, storage and injection could be fully deployed in the future.

Along with expected economies of scale, these and other innovations promise lower energy intensity and transformational system-wide cost reductions compared to existing processes. If successful, barriers will be lowered for smaller emitters in innovative industries and in areas harder to reach or decarbonise via electrification or hydrogen networks.

The expansion of direct air capture technologies may see the emergence of air purifying megastructures able to extract large quantities of historically emitted CO2 from our CO2-saturated atmosphere and pump and store it safely back deep underground for millennia to come."

Professor Stuart Haszeldine

COMPANY: University of Edinburgh
TITLE: Professor of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), School of GeoSciences
BACKGROUND: The world’s first Professor of CCS and leader of the UK’s largest academic CCS research group; awarded the Geological Society of London Energy Medal

"It is very clear that CO2 capture is essential at massive industrial scale."

"From the scientific evidence of present climate and previous temperature changes at the surface, it is very clear that CO2 capture is essential at massive industrial scale if humans wish to avoid barely predictable climate change in the coming decades.

Carbon capture and storage is the only group of technologies that can permanently store carbon deep underground, where the carbon dioxide can easily be monitored using modified oil and gas techniques. The most famous of these stores 1 million tonnes of CO2 a year deep beneath the North Sea, offshore of Norway, where the Sleipner project has been operating successfully since 1996.

The largest carbon dioxide capture projects are operated by oil companies to separate natural CO2 mixed with crude oil or methane. These projects can separate up to eight million tonnes per year. There are many laboratory investigations developing pilot plants for CO2 storage in salt water filled aquifers that currently have no commercial use.

The problems with deployment are not linked to engineering or to design, but rather a failure of government to create a reward for capturing and storing CO2. Just like any large-scale innovation, carbon capture and storage will require time and the construction of a number of projects to generate large scale cost savings and to drive improvement in equipment and processes."

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