Hybrid CCU Systems

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Hybrid Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU) systems represent an innovative approach to CO2 conversion, combining two or more different technologies to enhance efficiency, product diversity, and overall system performance. These integrated systems leverage the strengths of individual CCU technologies while mitigating their limitations, opening up new possibilities for turning CO2 emissions into valuable resources.

Impact on climate action

Hybrid CCU Systems transform CO2 emissions into valuable products, fostering climate action. By coupling carbon capture and utilization technologies, they mitigate greenhouse gas levels while generating economically viable outputs. This innovation accelerates the transition to a circular economy, reducing carbon footprints and advancing sustainable practices in various industries.


Hybrid CCU systems integrate various CCU technologies, including:

  • Electrochemical Conversion: Utilizing electricity to drive CO2 reduction reactions, producing chemicals and fuels.
  • Biological Conversion: Employing microorganisms to convert CO2 into biofuels, bioplastics, and other bio-based products.
  • Thermochemical Conversion: Using heat and catalysts to transform CO2 into syngas, which can be used as a building block for various chemicals and fuels.
  • Photocatalytic Conversion: Leveraging sunlight and specialized catalysts to drive CO2 conversion reactions.

TRL : 4-7 (depending on the specific combination of technologies and products)

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Process Integration and Optimization: Research focuses on seamlessly integrating different CCU technologies to create efficient and synergistic systems. This involves optimizing process parameters, energy flows, and material streams to maximize overall system performance.
  • Tailored Product Portfolios: Hybrid systems offer the potential to create diverse product portfolios, expanding the range of valuable products that can be produced from CO2.
  • Waste Heat Utilization: Incorporating waste heat from industrial processes or power generation can enhance the energy efficiency of hybrid CCU systems, reducing operational costs and environmental impact.
  • Modular and Scalable Designs: Developing modular and scalable hybrid systems is crucial for adapting to different CO2 sources, energy availability, and product demand.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Integrated Electrochemical-Biological Conversion
  • Synergistic Thermochemical-Biological Systems
  • Sunlight-Driven Photocatalytic Hybridization
  • Efficiency Optimization through Process Integration
  • Diversification of CO2-Derived Products
  • Scalable Modular Hybrid CCU Designs
  • Electrocatalytic CO2 Reduction Systems
  • Microbial CO2 Bioconversion Technologies
  • Catalytic Thermochemical CO2 Transformation
  • Solar-Powered Photocatalysis for CCU
  • Optimal Energy Management in Hybrid CCU
  • Carbon Negative Technologies Integration
  • Renewable Energy Integration in Hybrid CCU
  • Resource-Efficient CO2 Utilization Strategies
  • Multi-Product Generation through Hybridization

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Sunfire:
    • Technology Focus: Sunfire specializes in renewable energy and electrochemical processes. Their Hybrid CCU (Carbon Capture and Utilization) systems likely involve capturing carbon dioxide emissions and converting them into valuable products using renewable energy sources like solar or wind power.
    • Uniqueness: Sunfire’s uniqueness may lie in their integration of renewable energy with carbon capture and utilization technologies, offering sustainable solutions for decarbonizing industries.
    • End-User Segments: Their solutions could target industries with significant carbon emissions, such as power generation, cement production, steel manufacturing, and refineries, helping them reduce their environmental footprint while producing valuable commodities.
  • LanzaTech:
    • Technology Focus: LanzaTech is known for its gas fermentation technology, which converts carbon-rich waste gases into valuable fuels and chemicals. Their Hybrid CCU systems likely involve capturing carbon from industrial emissions and converting it into ethanol or other high-value products.
    • Uniqueness: LanzaTech stands out for its ability to convert waste carbon sources, such as steel mill off-gases or industrial flue gases, into useful products, thereby turning a liability into an asset.
    • End-User Segments: Their solutions could benefit industries with carbon-rich waste streams, such as steel manufacturing, chemical production, and waste management, enabling them to monetize their emissions while reducing environmental impact.
  • Prometheus Fuels:
    • Technology Focus: Prometheus Fuels focuses on producing carbon-neutral fuels using carbon capture technology. Their Hybrid CCU systems likely involve capturing carbon dioxide directly from the air or industrial sources and converting it into synthetic fuels using renewable energy.
    • Uniqueness: Prometheus Fuels could be unique in its approach of producing carbon-neutral transportation fuels, offering a viable alternative to traditional fossil fuels without the associated greenhouse gas emissions.
    • End-User Segments: Their solutions could target transportation industries seeking carbon-neutral alternatives to conventional fuels, as well as industries with carbon emissions looking to offset their environmental impact through sustainable fuel options.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • Technical University of Denmark (DTU):
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at DTU are working on hybrid CCU systems that combine various technologies such as catalysis, electrochemistry, and biotechnology to convert CO2 into value-added products efficiently. They are exploring novel catalyst materials, reactor designs, and process integration techniques to enhance the performance and scalability of CCU processes.
    • Uniqueness of Research: DTU’s approach involves a holistic assessment of CCU systems, considering not only the technical aspects but also the environmental and economic implications. They are developing life cycle assessment (LCA) models and techno-economic analysis tools to evaluate the sustainability and feasibility of different CCU pathways.
    • End-use Applications: The research at DTU has implications for industries such as chemicals, fuels, and materials. By converting CO2 into valuable products such as methane, methanol, and polymers, CCU technologies can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote the transition to a circular carbon economy.
  • RWTH Aachen University:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at RWTH Aachen University are focusing on developing advanced reactor systems and process intensification techniques for hybrid CCU systems. They are investigating innovative reactor configurations, such as microreactors and membrane reactors, to improve mass and heat transfer rates and enhance the overall efficiency of CO2 conversion processes.
    • Uniqueness of Research: RWTH Aachen’s research emphasizes the integration of CCU technologies with renewable energy sources to achieve carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative production processes. They are exploring synergies between CCU and renewable energy systems, such as solar and wind power, to utilize excess electricity for CO2 conversion and storage.
    • End-use Applications: The research at RWTH Aachen has applications in sectors such as energy storage, chemicals, and agriculture. By converting CO2 into fuels, chemicals, and fertilizers, CCU technologies can help mitigate climate change and support the development of a sustainable bioeconomy.
  • University of Oxford:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at the University of Oxford are investigating novel catalyst materials and reaction pathways for CO2 conversion in hybrid CCU systems. They are focusing on understanding the fundamental mechanisms of CO2 activation and transformation at the molecular level to design more efficient and selective catalysts for CCU processes.
    • Uniqueness of Research: The University of Oxford’s research integrates principles of green chemistry and synthetic biology into the development of CCU technologies. They are exploring biologically inspired approaches for CO2 capture and conversion, such as enzyme-catalyzed reactions and microbial fermentation, to create sustainable and scalable solutions for carbon utilization.
    • End-use Applications: The research at the University of Oxford has implications for industries such as pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and renewable energy. By harnessing nature’s catalytic processes for CO2 conversion, CCU technologies can enable the production of high-value products such as pharmaceutical intermediates, biofuels, and biodegradable polymers, contributing to both economic growth and environmental sustainability.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

While large-scale commercial implementation of hybrid CCU systems is still in its early stages, several pilot projects and partnerships are demonstrating the potential of this approach:

  • Sunfire: Has built a pilot plant in Germany to demonstrate its integrated CO2-to-liquid fuels technology.
  • LanzaTech: Has partnered with steel mills and other industrial facilities to capture CO2 emissions and convert them into ethanol and other chemicals.