carbon capture utilisation and storage

What is the evolution of carbon capture utilisation and storage?

Learn how carbon capture utilisation and storage can help to limit greenhouse gas emissions from hard-to-abate sectors.

By Shell Catalysts & Technologies on May 18, 2022

As more countries turn their attention to achieving net-zero goals, carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) and related decarbonisation technologies will play a larger role in helping hard-to-abate sectors reduce emissions.

Hard-to-abate sectors include heavy emitters, such as cement, pulp-and-paper and steel manufacturers where alternative energy use is not yet feasible from a technology or economic standpoint. The cement industry alone accounts for about a quarter of all industry CO2 emissions, yet is the second-most-consumed product globally, after potable water.1 Heavy emitters such as cement manufacturers are seeking pathways to reduce their CO2 emissions in alignment with societal energy transition goals.2

CCUS technologies will be crucial for heavy emitters looking to reduce carbon and other emissions. In fact, some of the CCUS technologies offered by Shell Catalysts & Technologies – CANSOLV CO2 Capture and ADIP-ULTRA – are based on the same science that has helped refineries to significantly reduce air pollutants like sulphur dioxide (SO2).

In this article, we’ll look at the decarbonisation potential of CCUS technologies for heavy emitters and the current and future applications of Shell Catalysts & Technologies’ CCUS solutions.

Discover: Four energy transition pathways

The evolution of CCS to CCUS

  • Carbon capture and storage (CCS): CCS technology captures carbon at its source of emission. The CO2 can then be stored underground in a safe and effective way. CCS can also be referred to as carbon capture and sequestration.
  • Carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS): CCUS includes the process of utilising the captured carbon as a resource to create a range of products from cement to synthetic fuels. CCUS can also be referred to as carbon capture utilisation and sequestration.3

What is carbon capture utilisation and storage?

Currently, CCUS facilities around the world have the capacity to capture more than 40 million metric tons of CO2 each year.4 According to the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Report to Congress, carbon capture technologies already play a significant role in the United States economy, with 45 CCUS facilities operating or in development around the U.S. as of 2021. For the United States to reach its climate goals, the report estimates it will have to increase CCUS deployment tenfold over the next decade.5

Adoption will continue to increase as CCUS incentives and tax credits become more commonand as projects mature to improve the financial cost-benefit case behind CCUS.6 While immediate action to reach net-zero goals may be currently focused on carbon capture, a future carbon economy may also necessitate the utilisation of that captured carbon, which can help make CCUS solutions more financially feasible to private industries when government incentives subside.

Read insights into the scale-up of a low-carbon economy

Uncovering air quality benefits from CCUS technologies

Since carbon storage technologies remove CO2 emissions from the air, they can play a part in improving overall air quality. On a wide-scale level, CO2 and methane emissions are contributing to the greenhouse effect, where gases are trapping heat in the atmosphere and resulting in a gradual rise of global temperatures.

The most direct benefit of wide-scale carbon capture is to stop climate change and rising global temperatures, which would also reduce the impact of air pollutants.

Research has shown that temperature increases driven by CO2 emissions can directly impact human respiratory health in a similar way as traditional forms of air pollution.7 Experts generally believe that climate change is expected to increase air pollution concentrations in the future, which can adversely impact health and mortality.8

In addition, early studies suggest that carbon capture technologies can potentially reduce pollutants aside from CO2, such as sulphur and nitrogen oxides. The European Economic Area (EEA) released a report stating that carbon capture and storage will have an overall positive effect on air pollution and can reduce emissions such as SO2.9

An overview of Shell Catalysts & Technologies’ CCUS offerings

Shell Catalysts & Technologies provides carbon capture and storage technologies, including CANSOLV and ADIP-ULTRA. These amine-based absorbents capture pollutants from either low-pressure or high-pressure gas streams to produce extremely pure CO2 (99.9%+ on a dry basis) as by-products that can be sold, reused or stored.

The CANSOLV capture system removes CO2, SO2 and NO2 from a wide range of low-pressure applications. The technology is currently operating on or being deployed on a variety of applications including natural gas combustion, natural gas combined cycle, coal-fired power, fluid catalytic cracker (FCC), cement, steel manufacturing, hydrogen manufacturing and many other industrial and chemical applications.

ADIP-ULTRA is a gas-treating process for CO2 removal that can be an ideal solution for meeting emissions requirements in both greenfield and brownfield applications. This regenerative-amine-based process is suitable for bulk and deep removal of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) and CO2 from natural gas, refinery gases, synthesis gas and other process gases, with the main application area being for gases with no requirement for organic sulphur components removal. CO2 can either be removed or slipped when selective removal of H2S is desired.

Webinar: Driving down the cost of carbon capture and storage

Over the last few years, Shell Catalysts & Technologies – in collaboration with its alliance partner Technip Energies – has been actively working with CCUS projects around the globe.

Discover how these developments respond to the needs of emitters of different sizes and in different sectors, and how they can make carbon capture easier and cheaper to implement – with the assurance that these benefits will be realised on real-world projects.

Watch the webinar on-demand “Unlocking affordable CCS: Driving down the cost of CO2 capture

1 Thomas Czigler et al., “Laying the foundation for zero-carbon cement”, McKinsey & Company, 14 May 2020, https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/chemicals/our-insights/laying-the-foundation-for-zero-carbon-cement.
2 Krysta Biniek et al., “Driving CO₂ emissions to zero (and beyond) with carbon capture, use, and storage”, McKinsey Sustainability, 30 June 2020, https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability/our-insights/driving-co2-emissions-to-zero-and-beyond-with-carbon-capture-use-and-storage.
3 Krysta Biniek et al., “Driving CO₂ emissions to zero (and beyond) with carbon capture, use, and storage”, McKinsey Sustainability, 30 June 2020, https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability/our-insights/driving-co2-emissions-to-zero-and-beyond-with-carbon-capture-use-and-storage.
4 “About CCUS”, International Energy Agency, April 2021, https://www.iea.org/reports/about-ccus.
5 “Council on Environmental Quality Report to Congress on Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration”, Executive Office of the President of the United States Council on Environmental Quality”, 16 Februrary 2022, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/CEQ-CCUS-Permitting-Report.pdf.
6 Ibid.
7 Marina Somma, “The Effects of Carbon Dioxide on Air Pollution”, Sciencing, 20 October 2021, https://sciencing.com/list-5921485-effects-carbon-dioxide-air-pollution.html.
8 “Interaction Effects of Air Pollution and Climatic Factors on Circulatory and Respiratory Mortality in Xi’an, China between 2014 and 2016”, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17 December 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7729743/.
9 “Carbon capture and storage could also impact air pollution”, European Environment Agency, 23 November 2020, https://www.eea.europa.eu/highlights/carbon-capture-and-storage-could#:~:text=Carbon%20capture%20and%20storage%20(CCS,trade%2Doffs%20for%20air%20pollution