The role of CCU and CCS to enable a net-zero-CO2 emissions chemical industry
This contribution provides a conceptual analysis and a quantitative comparative assessment of three technology chains that enable a carbon neutral chemical industry in a net-zero-CO2 world.
These are based (i) on the use of fossil fuels and current chemical processes and infrastructure coupled with carbon capture and storage (CCS route), (ii) on the use of captured CO2 used as a feedstock together with "green" hydrogen in new chemical processes (CCU route), (iii) on the use of biomass grown and processed for the specific purpose of making chemicals (BIO route).
All routes are feasible and have different pros and cons. Such pros and cons are first discussed through a qualitative comparison of the three routes for a generic chemical product, and are then quantitatively assessed for the specific case of methanol production. In this case, the CCU route results in an electricity consumption 10 to 45 times higher than that of the CCS and BIO routes, mostly due to the electricity required to produce hydrogen. At the same time, the BIO route requires a land capacity about 40 and 300 times higher than that required by the CCU and CCS routes, respectively. Furthermore, when considering a net-positive-CO2 emissions world, the CO2 emissions of the CCU route grow about 9 times faster than that of the CCS and BIO routes. On the one hand, we identify key hurdles in all cases.
These are (i) the availability, accessibility and acceptance of CO2 storage sites for the CCS route; (ii) the very high electricity and energy demand for the CCU route, with the associated strict requirement of very low carbon-intensity of the electricity mix; (iii) the very high availability of land for biomass growth in the case of the BIO route, with the associated risks of conflict with other uses. On the other hand, we underline that the CCS route offers the possibility of using existing technologies and infrastructures, without the need of complete reshaping of the chemical industry, and of permanently removing CO2 from the atmosphere, hence representing a key element in a net-negative CO2 emissions world.
Finally, we consider the case of drop-in aviation fuels, as a paradigmatic petrochemical product earmarked for a sector that is difficult to decarbonise, and we extend the analysis above to include scenario-based considerations of costs and incentives.
The seminar will be held by professor Marco Mazzotti. Bio:
Marco Mazzotti, an Italian and Swiss citizen born in 1960, married, with two children, has been professor of process engineering at ETH Zurich since May 1997 (associate until March 2001 and Full Professor thereafter). He holds a Laurea (MSc, 1984) and a Ph.D. (1993), both in Chemical Engineering and from the Politecnico di Milano, Italy. Before joining ETH Zurich, he had worked five years in industry (1985-1990), and had been Assistant Professor at the Politecnico di Milano (1994–1997). He was coordinating lead author of the IPCC Special Report on CCS (2002-2005), President of the International Adsorption Society (2010–2013), chairman of the Board of the Energy Science Center of the ETH Zurich (2011-2017), and chairman of the Working Party on Crystallization of the EFCE (2014-2021). He is one of the six Executive Editors of Chemical Engineering Science (since 1.1.2012). He was a contributor to the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from the Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, Germany (2014). He has been awarded a European Research Council Advanced Grant towards „Studying secondary nucleation for the intensification of continuous crystallization“ (2018-2023). He was the recipient of the SINTEF and NTNU CCS Award 2021. As of September 2021, he has published about 400 papers that have been cited more than 2,000 times, resulting in an H-index of 76 (Google Scholar). Fifty doctoral students have graduated with him and twenty-two doctoral students are currently advised by him. He was the chair of the 9th International Conference on Fundamentals of Adsorption FOA9 (Taormina, I, May 20–25, 2007), of the 18th International Symposium on Industrial Crystallization (Zurich, CH, September 15–16, 2011), and of the 2019 Gordon Research Conference on Carbon, Capture, Utilization and Storage (Les Diablerets, CH, May 5-10, 2019).
The seminar will be introduced by Francesco Laio, Professor and director of DIATI.
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