Evaluations are critical to guide decisions in funding, research, development, and market introduction of carbon dioxide capture and utilization technologies. The Global CO2 Initiative addresses this with the following efforts.
- Market Potential
- Environmental and Economic Feasibility of CO2 Utilization
- CCU Activity Hub
- Carbon Removal Index ™
1. Market Potential
We have defined two main types of CCU products: Track 1, or durable capture and stabilization, and Track 2, or temporary capture, which can contribute to a circular carbon economy displacing fossil carbon. Building on this, we show how carbon capture and utilization can be a valuable tool in reducing atmospheric CO2. It offers the possibility of making useful and valuable goods from the captured carbon dioxide, creating revenues and jobs while complementing other carbon removal and mitigation options that address climate change. A new report from the Global CO2 Initiative, “Implementing CO2 capture and utilization at scale and speed: The path to achieving its potential,” helps clarify CCU trends and developments, as well as points to the most effective and efficient ways in which to grow the CCU industry.
Key findings are:
- The four most climatologically significant CCU options are aggregates (Track 1), precast concrete (Track 1), jet fuels (Track 2), and methanol (Track 2).
- These four options are ready to go now; however, several policy and financial actions and incentives are still required in order to implement them at scale.
- Integrated capture and utilization minimizes the need for infrastructure.
- Large-scale deployment is feasible in time for 2050 net-zero commitments.
2. Environmental and Economic Feasibility of CO2 Utilization
Which CO2 utilization technologies bring the most environmental and economic benefits? How can two technologies be compared to each other in a consistent manner? It is vital to thoroughly quantify and assess technologies while still in laboratories—to guide research and investment decisions and to avoid costly mistakes for the environment and investments.
Those using this information to make decisions on technology development, deployment, investments, and policies have articulated strongly that harmonized guidance is needed to allow transparent and comparable information for objective decision making.
In 2022, the Global CO2 Initiative released the revised and expanded LCA and TEA guidelines for CO2 Utilization version 2, a valuable resource to accelerate carbon capture and utilization (CCU) technology research, development, and deployment. The accompanying Making Sense document helps explain to decision makers how to best use assessments that are described by these new guidelines.
The Global CO2 Initiative began this project in 2017 when we helped develop the initial version of Techno-Economic Assessment & Life Cycle Assessment Guidelines for CO2 Utilization in collaboration with a team of European researchers at the
- University of Sheffield (P. Styring)
- IASS Potsdam (B. Olfe-Kräutlein)
- TU Berlin (R. Schomäcker)
- RWTH Aachen (A. Bardow)
This work was expanded in 2019 with the CO2NSISTENT project to further advance the guidelines and to coordinate and harmonize with related work in the US and Europe.
In order to assist decision makers, the project created the original guidance document entitled “Making Sense of Techno-Economic Assessment & Life Cycle Assessment Studies for CO2 Utilization: A guide on how to commission, understand, and derive decisions from TEA and LCA studies”. This report provides user-centered guidance on how to commission and understand TEA and LCA studies for CCU, and how to determine whether existing studies are eligible for use in a decision-making process. In addition, this report is meant to ensure that decision makers and all potential audiences can effectively build on disciplinary expertise.
Additionally, since 2018, worked examples that illustrate how to apply the TEA and LCA guidelines are available for free download.
- A Guide to Goal Setting in TEA: A Worked Example Considering CO2 Use in the Domestic Heating Sector (DOI 10.3998/2027.42/154988)
- Building an LCA Inventory: A Worked Example on a CO2 to Fertilizer Process (DOI 10.3998/2027.42/154989)
- Interpretation of LCA results: A Worked Example on a CO2 to Fertilizer Process (DOI 10.3998/2027.42/154990)
- Methanol Worked Examples for the TEA and LCA Guidelines for CO2 Utilization( DOI 10.3998/2027.42/145723)
- Global CO2 Initiative Complete Mineralization Study 2018 (DOI 10.3998/2027.42/147467)
- Global CO2 Initiative Complete Oxymethylene Ethers Study 2018 (DOI 10.3998/2027.42/147468)
- Multi-Attributional Decision Making in LCA & TEA for CCU: An Introduction to Approaches and a Worked Example (DOI 10.7302/805)
- SNG Worked Example for the TEA Guidelines for CO2 Utilization (DOI 10.7302/1057)
Beginning in 2019, international harmonization efforts for TEA and LCA increased and resulted in the formation of the International CCU Assessment Harmonization Group.
Promoting research, development, and commercialization of carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies requires assessing the environmental and economic opportunities and risks. These opportunities and risks can be quantified with life cycle assessments and techno-economic assessments. Furthermore, a common framework is needed for consistent conduct and transparent reporting. The mission of the International CCU Assessment Harmonization Group is to create this common framework. We are bringing together related efforts, analyze differences and seek to eliminate them where possible.
Who participates and why:
- The Global CO2 Initiative’s coordination, guidance, and funding, in partnership with EIT Climate-KIC, produced the “Techno-Economic Assessment & Life Cycle Assessment Guidelines for CO2 Utilization”. This document was developed by the Institute of Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam, TU Berlin, RWTH Aachen, and the University of Sheffield.
- National Energy Technology Laboratory conducts techno-economic and life cycle analysis of carbon capture, utilization, and storage operations for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carbon Capture and Carbon Utilization Programs using NETL’s Carbon Dioxide Utilization Life Cycle Analysis Guidance Toolkit and Quality Guidelines for Energy System Studies.
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory seeks to guide research and development of CO2 utilization technologies, especially within the context of Power-to-X, by conducting unbiased techno-economic analysis, life-cycle assessment, and risk assessment.
- Argonne National Laboratory has been conducting LCA of CCU and CCS with its GREET LCA model and TEA of production of electro-fuels from CO2 and renewable electricity.
- National Research Council of Canada has developed a framework to assess technical, economic and environmental performance of emerging CO2 conversion technologies.
- National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), which is working on LCA case studies and the creation of LCA guidelines for Japan.
This team has developed a centralized source for life cycle assessment and techno-economic assessment for CCU with background reading, tools, templates, instructional videos, and more.
Visit AssessCCUS to explore and utilize this resource.
Recordings of webinars that introduce Guidelines for TEA and LCA, address common challenge and discuss suggested solutions, and much more can be accessed on the Global CO2 Initiative’s YouTube Channel.
3. CCU Activity Hub
Carbon capture and utilization technologies (CCU) are expected to fuel a trillion dollar market that is increasingly attractive to investors, policy makers, and environmentalists.
Accordingly, activity and research in the CCU space has exploded in the past decade. Policy, start-ups and areas of research are constantly evolving.
To help organize and promote the further development of CCU technologies, we offer this ecosystem map, which allows users to view research articles, centers, start-ups, policy, and more, on a worldwide scale through an interactive, searchable map, which includes over 3,000 research articles, 50 research centers, and more.
Select the image to be directed to the interactive version of the map.
4. Carbon Removal Index TM
A useful metric to quantify progress towards the long term goal for carbon dioxide capture, utilization, and storage is the percentage of that goal that has been reached at a given time. This carbon removal index ™ quantifies progress and allows finer distinction into particular use cases, regional progress, and more.
For 2020, the cumulative amount of captured CO2 adds up to approximately 77 million tons. In relation to GCI’s target of using 4 gigatons of CO2 per year, this brings the index to CRI ™= 1.9%. Based on the most recent projections for CCUS provided by the IEA, the index will be CRI ™ =0.7%.
Top of page photo © Eric Berghen/IASS