Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) in Low-Carbon Metals

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research


What it is

Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) is a crucial suite of technologies designed to capture carbon dioxide emissions from industrial processes, including those related to metal production. This captured CO2 is then either utilized in other industrial applications or safely and permanently stored underground, preventing its release into the atmosphere and contributing to climate change mitigation.

Impact on climate action

Implementing Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) in Low-Carbon Metals significantly enhances climate action by reducing emissions from metal production. It mitigates CO2 release during manufacturing processes, promoting sustainable industry practices. This innovation fosters a crucial shift towards greener metal production, aiding global efforts to combat climate change.

Underlying
Technology

  • Carbon Capture: This involves capturing CO2 from flue gas streams using various technologies, such as:
    • Post-combustion capture: Capturing CO2 from the exhaust gases after combustion.
    • Pre-combustion capture: Removing CO2 from fuel before combustion.
    • Oxy-fuel combustion: Burning fuel in pure oxygen, producing a CO2-rich flue gas.
  • Carbon Utilization: This refers to using the captured CO2 as a feedstock to create valuable products, such as:
    • Chemicals: CO2 can be used to produce chemicals like methanol, urea, and polymers.
    • Building Materials: CO2 can be incorporated into concrete and other building materials for enhanced strength and carbon sequestration.
    • Fuels: CO2 can be converted into synthetic fuels using renewable energy sources.
  • Carbon Storage: This involves injecting and permanently storing captured CO2 in geological formations, such as depleted oil and gas reservoirs or saline aquifers.

TRL : Varies depending on specific technology, generally 5-9.

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Advanced Capture Materials: Researchers are developing new materials, such as advanced solvents and solid adsorbents, to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of CO2 capture.
  • Direct Air Capture (DAC): This emerging technology directly captures CO2 from the atmosphere, offering a potential solution for removing historical emissions.
  • Mineral Carbonation: This innovative approach converts captured CO2 into solid carbonate minerals, offering permanent and safe storage with a lower risk of leakage.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Flue Gas CO2 Capture Technologies
  • Pre-Combustion CO2 Capture Methods
  • Oxy-Fuel Combustion for CO2 Capture
  • Chemicals Production from Captured CO2
  • Building Materials Incorporating CO2
  • Synthetic Fuels from CO2 Conversion
  • Geological CO2 Storage Techniques
  • Advanced CO2 Capture Materials
  • Solid Adsorbents for CO2 Capture
  • Direct Air Capture (DAC) Technology
  • Historical Emissions Removal Solutions
  • Mineral Carbonation Processes
  • Enhanced Efficiency CO2 Capture Solutions
  • Renewable Energy Integration for CO2 Conversion
  • Safe and Permanent CO2 Storage

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Climeworks (Switzerland):
    • Technology Focus: Climeworks specializes in direct air capture (DAC) technology, which involves capturing carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere. Their focus is on developing scalable solutions for carbon removal and storage.
    • Uniqueness: Climeworks stands out for its pioneering work in DAC technology, offering scalable and modular systems that can be deployed in various locations. Their approach to carbon capture aligns with the goals of achieving negative emissions and combating climate change.
    • End-User Segments: Their solutions can benefit industries seeking to offset their carbon emissions, including manufacturing, transportation, energy production, and agriculture.
  • CarbonCure (Canada):
    • Technology Focus: CarbonCure specializes in carbon utilization technology for the concrete industry. Their solution involves injecting captured carbon dioxide into concrete during the mixing process, where it becomes mineralized and permanently stored.
    • Uniqueness: CarbonCure offers a unique approach to carbon utilization by integrating it into the concrete production process, resulting in stronger and more sustainable concrete while reducing carbon emissions.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments include the construction industry, developers, architects, and infrastructure projects aiming to reduce their carbon footprint and meet sustainability goals.
  • LanzaTech (USA):
    • Technology Focus: LanzaTech focuses on converting carbon-rich waste streams, such as industrial flue gases, into valuable products like low-carbon fuels and chemicals using microbial fermentation technology.
    • Uniqueness: LanzaTech is known for its innovative approach to carbon recycling, transforming waste carbon emissions into high-value products. Their technology enables the circular economy by converting waste into resources.
    • End-User Segments: Their solutions are relevant to industries with carbon-rich waste streams, including steel production, refining, chemical manufacturing, and waste management.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Technology Enhancements: MIT researchers are exploring novel techniques for integrating carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) into the production processes of low-carbon metals. They are investigating advanced materials and catalytic processes for capturing CO2 emissions from metal refining and manufacturing operations.
    • Uniqueness of Research: MIT’s approach involves developing integrated CCUS systems tailored specifically for the production of low-carbon metals. This includes designing capture technologies that are compatible with high-temperature industrial processes and exploring innovative ways to utilize captured CO2 in other industrial applications or for long-term storage.
    • End-use Applications: The research at MIT has implications for various industries, including steelmaking, aluminum production, and metal recycling sectors. By incorporating CCUS technologies into metal manufacturing processes, companies can reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to global efforts to mitigate climate change.
  • Imperial College London (UK):
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at Imperial College London are focusing on developing advanced materials and processes for capturing and storing CO2 emissions from low-carbon metal production. They are investigating novel sorbents, membranes, and catalytic systems for efficient CO2 capture and utilization in metal refining and processing.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Imperial College’s research emphasizes the integration of CCUS technologies with emerging low-carbon metal production methods such as hydrogen-based reduction and electrolytic processes. They are exploring synergies between carbon capture and metal recovery processes to maximize efficiency and minimize environmental impact.
    • End-use Applications: The research at Imperial College has applications in industries such as iron and steel, aluminum, and rare earth metals. By deploying CCUS technologies in low-carbon metal production, companies can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet sustainability targets while maintaining competitiveness in global markets.
  • Stanford University:
    • Technology Enhancements: Stanford researchers are investigating innovative approaches to carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) in the context of low-carbon metals. They are developing advanced materials, catalysts, and reactor systems for capturing CO2 emissions from metal production processes and converting them into valuable products or storing them underground.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Stanford’s research integrates principles of materials science, chemistry, and process engineering to develop holistic CCUS solutions for low-carbon metal manufacturing. They are exploring new pathways for utilizing captured CO2 as feedstock for chemical synthesis or enhancing the recovery of metals from ores using CO2-based processes.
    • End-use Applications: The research at Stanford has implications for industries such as steelmaking, aluminum smelting, and metal casting. By implementing CCUS technologies in low-carbon metal production, companies can reduce their environmental footprint, enhance resource efficiency, and create new opportunities for sustainable growth in the metals sector.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

CCUS is already being implemented commercially in various sectors, including power generation, oil and gas, and steel production. Several large-scale CCS projects are operational worldwide, demonstrating the technology’s maturity and scalability. However, wider adoption faces challenges related to cost and the need for supportive policies.