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IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme

GHGT-13 Panel Discussion on CO2 Utilisation and Conversion

 This was a lively well attended panel discussion which certainly sparked a lot of debate. My takeaways from this were:

  • CO2 utilisation and conversion to chemicals is a hot topic in many countries, with many Governments funding research programmes
  • To meet the below 20C target set at COP22 we need mitigation options that permanently remove CO2 from the atmosphere
  • CO2-EOR is the leading form of CO2 utilisation and has the potential to store permanently some CO2
  • Manufacturing chemical products like methanol and urea do not permanently store CO2 and therefore are not mitigation options.
  • Utilising CO2 to make products like methanol and urea could help with the installation of capture plants on new industry processes, like SABIC's capture plant on its polyethylene process in Saudi Arabia.
  • Utilising CO2 from chemical industry is not likely to help develop a transport infrastructure that could take significant volumes of CO2 to offshore storage sites in Europe.
  • Expecting large amounts of free renewable energy to be available to convert industrial CO2 to chemicals is improbable.
  • Some CO2 based polymers could conceivably last for 50-100 years but that is still not long enough as a mitigation option.
  • Mineralisation is a niche opportunity not a global solution and is at very best CO2 neutral as it only serves to recombine minerals that have been de-carbonated with the CO2 they lost during processing.

In short apart from CO2-EOR, coal utilisation is not a solution to climate change.

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