Carbon capture technologies can be applied to a variety of carbon dioxide emitting processes, where the CO2 is separated from process emissions by physical and chemical processes.

It is technically feasible to achieve very high capture rates (>95%) with only minor (<3%) efficiency and financial penalties compared to a capture facility capturing at 90%. Capture rates above 99% are possible, and as technologies develop through deployment, capture technology efficiencies are expected to improve.

Power Generation

Carbon dioxide capture from the combustion of fossil fuels or biomass at power plants can be done by one of three processes; pre-combustion capture; post-combustion capture and oxyfuel combustion capture.

Industrial Processes

Carbon dioxide capture is applicable to several industrial sectors. All of which will produce carbon dioxide at different temperatures, concentrations, purities, pressures and volumes. It will be vital for energy intensive industries such as those listed below to capture carbon if the EU is to reach its climate targets.

  • Ammonia production
  • Iron and steel production
  • Cement production
  • Chemical production & processing
  • Ceramics manufacturing
  • Glass manufacturing
  • Natural gas processing

Low-carbon Hydrogen Manufacturing

Hydrogen can be produced from two processes: electrolysis of water and reformation of natural gas. To achieve the production of hydrogen at scale in Europe, both technologies will be required:

  • Electrolysis of water with renewable electricity is carbon neutral, however, it is currently uneconomic at scale due to its high energy demand.
  • The reformation of natural gas using a steam methane reformer or auto thermal reformer involves breaking down methane into hydrogen and CO2. When combined with CCS, this enables the production of low-carbon hydrogen, which can then be used to decarbonise transport, heating, power and industry.

Negative Emissions (Carbon Dioxide Removal)

Negative emission solutions enable the net removal and permanent storage of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere; this will be a crucial if climate targets are to be achieved. Currently there are two negative emissions solutions being considered:

  • Direct Air Capture & CCS (DACCS). This involves removing CO2 directly from air. Currently it is very energy intensive and is an active area of research.
  • Bioenergy & CCS (BECCS): This involves using biomass as a fuel for industrial or power generation processes (outlined above) and capturing the CO2 for storage. Whilst it will be important to ensure careful management of sustainable sources of bioenergy, this technology will have a vital role in the future.