CO2 Pipelines and Transportation Infrastructure

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

CO2 pipelines and transportation infrastructure encompass the network of pipelines, ships, and other transportation systems specifically designed to move captured carbon dioxide from emission sources, such as power plants and industrial facilities, to geological storage sites or utilization facilities. These dedicated networks are essential for enabling the large-scale deployment of CCS technologies required to achieve significant emission reductions.

Impact on climate action

The implementation of CO2 pipelines and transportation infrastructure vastly accelerates carbon capture and storage efforts. By efficiently transporting captured CO2 to suitable storage sites, it enhances the viability of large-scale carbon sequestration projects, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and advancing global climate action initiatives.


Developing and operating CO2 transportation infrastructure relies on a range of engineering principles and technological advancements:

  • Pipeline Design and Construction: CO2 pipelines are typically made of high-strength steel and are designed to withstand the specific pressures and temperatures associated with CO2 transport. Advanced welding techniques, corrosion protection, and leak detection systems are crucial for ensuring pipeline integrity.
  • CO2 Compression and Conditioning: Captured CO2 is often compressed into a supercritical state for efficient transport through pipelines. Conditioning processes, such as dehydration and removal of impurities, are essential to prevent corrosion and ensure smooth flow.
  • Flow Modeling and Optimization: Computer simulations are used to model CO2 flow behavior within pipelines, optimize pipeline routing and design, and minimize energy consumption during transport.
  • Safety and Risk Management: Robust safety protocols and risk management strategies are critical for CO2 transportation infrastructure. This includes emergency response plans, leak detection systems, and community engagement programs.
  • Integration with Existing Infrastructure: Optimizing the integration of CO2 pipelines with existing infrastructure, such as natural gas pipelines or transportation corridors, can reduce costs and streamline deployment.

TRL : 8-9 (Pipeline technology for transporting CO2 is mature, with extensive experience in the oil and gas industry).

Prominent Innovation themes

  • CO2-Resistant Pipeline Materials: Researchers are developing new materials, such as composite pipes and advanced coatings, that offer enhanced resistance to CO2 corrosion, increasing pipeline lifespan and reducing maintenance costs.
  • Smart Pipeline Monitoring Systems: Sensors, data analytics, and machine learning are being integrated into pipeline monitoring systems to detect leaks, predict maintenance needs, and optimize pipeline operation.
  • Drone-Based Pipeline Inspections: Drones equipped with advanced sensors are being used to inspect CO2 pipelines for damage or leaks more efficiently and cost-effectively than traditional ground-based inspections.
  • CO2 Shipping and Maritime Transport: Specialized ships are being designed to transport large volumes of captured CO2 across long distances to offshore storage sites.
  • CO2 Rail Transportation: Utilizing existing rail infrastructure for CO2 transport is being explored as a potentially cost-effective and flexible transportation solution.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Advanced Pipeline Materials Development
  • Intelligent Pipeline Monitoring Systems
  • Drone-Assisted Pipeline Inspections
  • Maritime CO2 Transport Solutions
  • Rail-Based CO2 Transportation Strategies
  • Supercritical CO2 Compression Technologies
  • CO2 Flow Modeling and Optimization
  • CO2 Pipeline Corrosion Protection Methods
  • Leak Detection System Innovations
  • CO2 Pipeline Routing Optimization
  • Composite Pipeline Material Development
  • Advanced Coatings for Pipeline Protection
  • Machine Learning in Pipeline Management
  • Predictive Maintenance in Pipeline Systems
  • Offshore CO2 Storage Logistics
  • CO2 Pipeline Safety Protocols
  • Cost-Effective CO2 Transportation Solutions

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Energy Transfer:
    • Technology Focus: Energy Transfer is a leading company in the midstream energy sector, with a focus on transporting and storing various energy commodities, including CO2. They likely specialize in the construction and operation of CO2 pipelines and associated infrastructure.
    • Uniqueness: Energy Transfer stands out for its extensive network of pipelines and storage facilities, enabling the efficient and reliable transportation of CO2 for various applications such as enhanced oil recovery (EOR), carbon capture and storage (CCS), and industrial processes.
    • End-User Segments: Their services cater to a wide range of industries, including oil and gas producers, power plants, industrial facilities, and CCS projects, all of which require reliable CO2 transportation and storage solutions.
  • Enbridge:
    • Technology Focus: Enbridge is a multinational energy transportation company known for its expertise in operating pipelines, including those for transporting CO2. They likely focus on building and maintaining CO2 pipeline networks and related infrastructure.
    • Uniqueness: Enbridge’s strength lies in its comprehensive approach to pipeline transportation, encompassing safety, reliability, and environmental stewardship. They may offer advanced monitoring and integrity management solutions to ensure the safe and efficient operation of CO2 pipelines.
    • End-User Segments: Enbridge serves a diverse customer base across the energy industry, including oil and gas producers, power generators, chemical manufacturers, and CCS projects, all of which rely on the secure and timely delivery of CO2 for their operations.
  • Pipeline Integrity Solutions:
    • Technology Focus: Pipeline Integrity Solutions likely specializes in providing technologies and services for monitoring and maintaining the integrity of CO2 pipelines. Their focus may include leak detection, corrosion monitoring, and integrity assessment using advanced inspection techniques.
    • Uniqueness: Pipeline Integrity Solutions distinguishes itself through its specialized expertise in ensuring the safety and reliability of CO2 transportation infrastructure. They may offer innovative solutions for identifying and mitigating potential risks to pipeline integrity, thereby minimizing environmental impact and operational disruptions.
    • End-User Segments: Their services are essential for companies operating CO2 pipelines, including energy producers, pipeline operators, and CCS projects, all of which prioritize the safe and efficient transportation of CO2 for various applications.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • University of Texas at Austin:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin are focusing on developing advanced materials and technologies for CO2 pipelines and transportation infrastructure. This includes research into corrosion-resistant materials, pipeline monitoring systems, and efficient compression techniques to optimize the transportation of captured CO2.
    • Uniqueness of Research: The University of Texas at Austin’s research integrates expertise from multiple disciplines, including materials science, mechanical engineering, and environmental science, to address the challenges associated with CO2 transportation. They are exploring novel materials and coatings to enhance the durability and safety of CO2 pipelines, as well as developing smart sensors and predictive analytics for real-time monitoring and maintenance.
    • End-use Applications: The research at the University of Texas at Austin has implications for various industries, including power generation, oil and gas production, and carbon capture facilities. By improving the efficiency and reliability of CO2 transportation infrastructure, companies can accelerate the deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU):
    • Technology Enhancements: NTNU researchers are focusing on optimizing the design and operation of CO2 pipelines and transportation networks to maximize efficiency and minimize environmental impact. They are developing mathematical models and simulation tools to analyze the flow dynamics and pressure drop in CO2 pipelines, as well as studying the integration of CCS with existing infrastructure such as offshore oil and gas platforms.
    • Uniqueness of Research: NTNU’s research leverages Norway’s expertise in offshore engineering and subsea technology to address the unique challenges associated with transporting CO2 in harsh marine environments. They are exploring innovative solutions such as subsea CO2 storage and pipeline monitoring systems using autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to ensure the safety and integrity of CO2 transportation infrastructure.
    • End-use Applications: The research at NTNU has implications for Norway’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions from its offshore oil and gas industry and transition to a low-carbon economy. By developing reliable and cost-effective CO2 transportation infrastructure, Norway can support the deployment of CCS technologies and meet its climate targets while maintaining energy security and competitiveness.
  • University of Calgary:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at the University of Calgary are focusing on developing advanced modeling and simulation tools to optimize the routing and operation of CO2 pipelines for CCS projects. They are studying factors such as pipeline diameter, route selection, and injection rates to minimize costs and maximize the storage capacity of geological reservoirs.
    • Uniqueness of Research: The University of Calgary’s research integrates expertise from geoscience, petroleum engineering, and environmental economics to address the technical, economic, and regulatory challenges of CO2 transportation and storage. They are collaborating with industry partners to develop decision support systems and risk assessment frameworks for planning and implementing CCS projects.
    • End-use Applications: The research at the University of Calgary has implications for CCS projects in Alberta’s oil sands industry, as well as other regions with significant CO2 emissions from industrial sources. By optimizing the transportation and storage of CO2, companies can reduce their carbon footprint and comply with emission reduction targets while maintaining the economic viability of their operations.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

CO2 pipelines are already commercially deployed, primarily to transport CO2 for EOR operations:

  • Cortez Pipeline (U.S.): This 500-mile pipeline transports CO2 from a natural CO2 source in Colorado to oil fields in Texas for EOR.
  • Weyburn-Midale CO2 Pipeline (Canada): This pipeline delivers CO2 captured from a coal-fired power plant to an oil field in Saskatchewan for EOR and storage.