Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) is a technology that can capture and make effective use of the high concentrations of CO₂ emitted by industrial activities. Consequently, it has a key role to play in decarbonization and the addressing the challenge of global climate change. 

Why do we need carbon capture, utilization and storage?

Industries and transport sectors like cement, steel, aviation, trucking, aluminium and shipping have inherent CO2 emissions resulting from energy-intensive industry processes. Carbon capture, use and storage can provide a key contribution to tackling these sectors’ emissions. Furthermore, it can help removing carbon from the atmosphere through carbon removals such as bio-energy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and direct air carbon capture and storage (DACCS) and be a platform for low-carbon hydrogen production.

How do CCS and CCU work?

CCS: Carbon Capture and Storage.
CCU: Carbon Capture and Utilization.

Capturing carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere (DACCS) or from the combustion or fermentation of biogenic carbon (BECCS) has the potential to deliver negative emissions (carbon removals). The captured carbon is then either stored underground or used for the production of synthetic materials (fuels, chemicals, building materials).

Carbon Capture and Storage

Before carbon dioxide gas can be stored, it must be captured and stripped of most associated substances. This is not a new technology, as CO2 is routinely separated and captured as a by-product from industrial processes. The captured CO2 is then stored in compressed form and transported to the place of sequestration in tanks, pipelines or ships.

How safe is storing CO₂ underground?

The storage of CO2 in geological formations, including oil and gas reservoirs, unmendable coal seams, and deep saline reservoirs, is safe. The 2005 Special Report on CCS by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that appropriately selected and managed geological reservoirs are ‘very likely’ to retain over 99% of the sequestered COfor longer than 100 years and ‘likely’ to retain 99% of it for longer than 1000 years.

Carbon Capture and Utilization

The utilisation of carbon dioxide in production processes refers to technologies and procedures, which use COas a feedstock rather than releasing it to the atmosphere, e.g. by

  • directly using COin soft drinks or greenhouses,
  • using it as a working fluid or solvent such as for enhanced oil recovery (EOR), or
  • using COas a feedstock and converting it into value-added products such as polymers, building materials, chemicals and synthetic fuels.

Using CO2 as a feedstock can greatly contribute to the circular economy and the climate mitigation objectives.

Transportation of CO₂

Transport is the stage of carbon capture, utilisation or storage that links CO2 sources with production or storage sites. There are four basic options for transporting CO2: pipeline transport, waterborne transport, rail transport, and road transport. In the context of long-distance movement of large quantities of CO2, pipeline transport is part of current practice. Pipelines routinely carry large volumes of natural gas, oil, condensate and water over distances of thousands of kilometers, both on land and in the sea. CO2 pipelines are not new: they extend over hundreds of kilometers worldwide.