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Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage, is it the Holy Grail toward a sustainable energy system?

Carbon dioxide (CO2) has globally been declared the planet’s public enemy. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in the short-term and, more importantly, Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) in the long-term are perhaps the most relevant strategies worldwide to reverse the increasing emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere. Of course, whilst Carbon Capture might be perceived as an “end of pipe” solution to address climate change, it must also be viewed in the context of rapidly dealing with the mitigation of CO2 emissions and the burgeoning application of green, renewable and zero carbon energy sources. A number of promising CCU projects have been successful at a demonstration-scale including: (1) producing liquid hydrocarbons (e.g. methanol) from CO2, water and electricity; (2) making polyurethanes, polyols and polycarbonates from CO2 as feedstock; and (3) using CO2 to accelerate the carbonation of waste residues to produce construction materials. One of the key components for these technologies to become industrially scalable and economically feasible is the capacity to capture and purify CO2 at a competitive cost. Existing carbon capture technologies, such as amine plants, membranes and physical solvents and their applications are compared to technologies currently under development including the concept of air to fuels, which has been intensively developed by Carbon Engineering, and the use of enzymes as a catalyst to cheaply absorb CO2. The presentation comes from the perspective of a Young Engineer and the views of “Millennial’s” looking to the future, perhaps tempered by the retrospective of a “Baby Boomer”.
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