UKCCSRC Knowledge Exchange Conference – Parallel 1c: Whole Systems/Chain (ECR Meeting Fund)

Mohadeseh Motie (Heriot-Watt University) shares her takeaways from “Parallel 1c: Whole Systems/Chain and CCS Integration” at the UKCCSRC Knowledge Exchange Conference 2023.

Industrial Scale Decarbonization of a Blast Furnace through Carbon Capture along with Clean Hydrogen Production – Abhijit Sarkar (Dastur Energy)

The global steel industry has long been recognized as one of the largest contributors to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, accounting for approximately 7-10% of the total global emissions. The traditional Blast Furnace-Basic Oxygen Furnace (BF-BOF) route of steel production has been a significant part of this problem. However, hope is on the horizon, thanks to the great presentation by Abhijit Sarkar, a representative of Dastur Company.

His presentation unveils an ingenious solution to reduce emissions from steel production:

Understanding the Challenge

The steel industry is crucial for modern civilization, providing the backbone for infrastructure, transportation, and countless other applications. However, the environmental cost is substantial, with the steelmaking process emitting enormous amounts of CO2. To address this challenge, decarbonizing the BF-BOF route is essential, but it has been hampered by the economic constraints of multipoint post-combustion capture and the absence of viable coal alternatives.

Dastur’s Novel Solution

Abhijit Sarkar’s presentation showcases a groundbreaking solution that integrates a gas conditioning unit, a carbon capture unit, and a combined heat and power (CHP) plant. This innovative approach is a game-changer for the industry.

  1. Increased CO2 Concentration: The gas conditioning unit boosts the CO2 concentration to over 30%, significantly improving the efficiency of carbon capture technology. This higher concentration enables the capture of more than 85% of the available CO2 from a single source while maintaining the lowest cost per ton of CO2 captured.
  2. Hydrogen Recovery: In addition to CO2 capture, this system allows for the recovery of hydrogen (H2) from the H2-rich fuel gas stream at an exceptionally low cost of less than $0.5 per kilogram of H2. This dual-purpose approach maximizes the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the system.
  3. Versatility in CO2 Capture Technologies: With CO2 concentrations exceeding 30%, a wide range of carbon capture technologies can be deployed, depending on factors such as CO2 purity requirements, net CO2 reduction targets, and the cost of electricity and steam. The flexibility allows for tailored solutions based on individual plant operations and regional factors.
  4. Circular Green Economy: Beyond the reduction of emissions, the deployment of carbon capture along with H2 recovery opens the door to a circular green economy. CO2 and H2 can be used in downstream industries, including aggregates, methanol-based chemicals, enhanced oil recovery, and more. This holistic approach not only reduces emissions but also contributes to sustainable practices in related sectors.

Government Support and Acceleration

The presentation emphasized the importance of government incentives and support in accelerating the decarbonization of the steel industry. These incentives can be instrumental in making the transition to more sustainable steel production economically viable. Abhijit Sarkar highlights how policy support and techno-economic evaluations of different options are essential elements in achieving a cleaner and greener steel industry.

Abhijit Sarkar’s presentation offers a promising vision for the future of steel production. By integrating a gas conditioning unit, carbon capture unit, and combined heat and power plant, Dastur has introduced a game-changing solution that addresses the steel industry’s colossal carbon emissions. This innovative approach not only reduces emissions but also offers the potential for hydrogen recovery and a circular green economy.

As the world strives to meet its climate goals, solutions like the one presented by Abhijit Sarkar and Dastur Company offer hope for a more sustainable and environmentally responsible steel industry. With the right policy support and economic considerations, the transformation of steel production is within reach, paving the way for a cleaner and greener future.

Life Cycle Environmental Assessment and Techno-Economic Analysis of Green and Low-carbon Ethanol Production from Low-value Tail Gas – Lingyun Zhang (University of Nottingham)

The author presented her research on comparing different ethanol production methods using lifecycle assessment at a recent conference on sustainable chemical technologies. Her work provides valuable insights on assessing the environmental impacts of emerging bio-based production routes.

The author’s lifecycle assessment of bio-fermented ethanol made from steel industry waste gas demonstrated this new LDG-ethanol route has advantages over conventional corn and coal-based ethanol. Cradle-to-gate analysis showed LDG-ethanol had the lowest overall environmental impact, thanks to its low inputs and mild operating conditions.

Specifically, LDG-ethanol performed best on fossil fuel depletion, eutrophication, and freshwater ecotoxicity indicators. Its main limitations were higher acidification and marine ecotoxicity impacts. The author identified electricity consumption as the most influential factor, responsible for over 80% of impacts.

Excitingly, the author explored scenarios to optimize LDG-ethanol’s environmental performance. With improved energy efficiency, its score dropped 17%. Switching to renewable hydropower electricity further reduced the impact by 68%. Her models predict as grids decarbonize, LDG-ethanol could maintain the lowest impact among ethanol routes.

For China’s steel industry, adopting LDG-ethanol over burning waste gas for power could reduce 5.6 million tonnes CO2 yearly by 2060. It could also generate 19.9-23.4 billion RMB in profit. This highlights the substantial environmental and economic benefits possible by converting waste gas into bioethanol.

Overall, the author’s lifecycle assessment provided robust evidence that bio-fermented LDG-ethanol is highly promising from a sustainability perspective. Her insights can guide emerging LDG-ethanol facilities globally to maximize benefits. The work should inspire other industries to explore waste gas valorization technologies to align with decarbonization goals.

Bottom-up CCS: capturing and storing the negative emissions value of bio-CO2 – Stuart Haszeldine (University of Edinburgh)

Professor Haszeldine’s presentation of his paper highlighted the urgent need to rapidly scale up carbon capture and storage (CCS) and negative emissions technologies (NETs) globally if we want to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals of limiting warming to 1.5-2°C.

The analysis showed we need to reduce CO2 emissions dramatically in the coming decades by both decreasing our fossil fuel emissions with CCS and removing previously emitted CO2 using NETs. The problem is that while CCS is the most mature solution, deployment rates are happening at only 1% of the pace needed.

Right now, there are only 15 operating CCS projects worldwide capturing just 60 megatonnes (Mt) of CO2 annually. But to limit warming to 2°C, the IPCC estimates we need to be storing 6000 MtCO2 every year by 2050. Based on past growth trends, CCS is projected to reach only 10% of that target by 2050.

Making matters worse is that most NETs, like direct air capture or biomass energy with CCS, exist only at demonstration scale. Options like enhanced weathering or mineral carbonation could potentially ramp up in the next 10-20 years but face big legal and regulatory obstacles.

So, what needs to happen? Nations must urgently assess their carbon storage options and enact policies to incentivize rapid CCS deployment at industrial facilities, not just power plants. Governments also need to support building out CO2 transport infrastructure.

Simple solutions like certificates requiring fossil fuel producers to store an escalating fraction of their carbon emissions each year could create new markets for CO2 storage and drive growth. The good news is that commercially-proven options, like using captured CO2 for enhanced oil recovery, can help establish infrastructure while making money in the near term.

The stakes could not be higher. Decisions made in the next decade around CO2 storage will lock in climate risks for generations to come. CCS and NETs are critical to achieving Paris, but are profoundly lacking at scale. Policymakers need to wake up to the urgency and create conditions for sustainable businesses to invest and radically accelerate the transition. The narrow window to act is fast closing.