CO2 utilisation, also known as Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU) or CO2 re-use, has a vast emissions mitigation and large market potential. But a lack of assessment guidelines is slowing down its commercialisation. Some estimates place the market for CO2-based materials at as much as $1 trillion, with the possibility of a 10 per cent global CO2 reduction.
Development of the technologies and equipment needed to convert CO2 to useful materials like chemicals, building materials, polymers, and fuels, operates on long timescales and requires significant investment. The lack of a common set of assessment guidelines makes it difficult to compare investments in CO2 utilisation products with conventional products, resulting in much of the key capital needed to capture the CCU opportunity remaining on sidelines.
Recognising the need for a set of common assessment guidelines, a cooperation between EIT Climate-KIC and two North American organisations — The Global CO2 Initiative and the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE — is supporting a world-class consortium to develop, socialise, and publish a set of Techno-Economic Assessment (TEA) and Life Cycle Assessment tools and guidelines for CO2 utilisation. These TEA and LCA tools are being developed by Europe’s leading voices on CCU, including EIT Climate-KIC Partners TU Berlin and RWTH Aachen, drawing on input from global experts.
EIT Climate-KIC is supporting TU Berlin’s contribution to the work through a Scaler project that builds on outputs of the EnCO2re flagship programme. Other consortium members include the University of Sheffield and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies. The outputs of the project will be open-source and shared in a multi-phase process in 2018.
The LCA toolkit will determine the carbon mitigation potential of a given technology, and the techno-economic assessment will help determine its commercial viability, filling the need corporations and governments have to make investment decisions. Standardising the methods by which carbon utilisation technologies are assessed will enable apples-to-apples comparisons for CO2 conversion processes, helping speed up the commercialisation of CO2 utilisation technologies and enabling industry to reach full mitigation potential.
EIT Climate-KIC’s Role
When CO2 Sciences recognised the need for a project like this to meet its own needs, it began a global search for the leading experts on CCU. Its search revealed two EIT Climate-KIC Partners, already active in EIT Climate-KIC’s EnCO2re flagship programme that started in 2015. TU Berlin has led the techno-economic workstream of the EnCO2re programme, while RWTH Aachen has led the ecological assessment workstream. EnCO2re was co-initiated by EIT Climate-KIC and industry partner Covestro, forming a consortium of 12 European partners from industry and research sectors. The programme took a comprehensive approach towards CO2 re-use through activities in technology development, product development, technology acceptance, ecological assessments and market development.