Carbon dioxide is far from a benign material and the implications this has on its capture, transport and storage need to be addressed urgently.

Global anthropogenic CO2 emissions from industry and power generation currently produces around 30Gt CO2 a year. At the present rate of growth this would reach 62Gt by 2050 whereas the target to restrict global warming to 2◦C by this date is to reduce the current level to 16Gt by 2050.

To meet the goal of reducing emissions by half by 2050 it will require 100 projects by 2020 requiring an additional $42bn of investment, half in OECD countries and half in developing nations. This figure would need to rise to 3400 by 2050, of which the majority (65%) need to be in non-OECD countries.

The total investment will need to grow to US$2000bn by 2050 of which two-thirds will need to be from non-OECD countries.

Presently there are just four CCS projects under way: – Sleipner (Statoil Norway N Sea): 1Mt/y CO2 stored since 1996; – Snøhvit (Statoil Norway N Sea): 700kt/y CO2 stored since 2008; – In Salah (BP Algeria): 1Mt/y CO2 stored since 2004; and – Weyburn-Midale (Canada): 3Mt/y CO2 stored per year since 2000. The first three return CO2 separated from natural gas, only the Canadian project uses industrial generated gas for enhanced oil recovery (EOR).

Achieving IEA recommendations requires a significant scaling up in global ambitions. All components for CCS have been proven separately in other industries but there is a need to integrate at scale.

It was thus with considerable disappointment to learn at a seminar in London organised by the Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum entitled ‘Carbon Capture and Storage: commercialisation, the Competition and the UK’s Roadmap’ that the momentum to proceed with UK’s CCS projects on a demonstration scale have stalled.
In his opening remarks, Chair of the first session, Christopher Pincher MP said ‘it was five years ago, the then Chairman of UK’s Committee on Climate Change, Lord Turner, said that CCS, whilst technically feasible, still must be proven at scale and it is vitally important that CCS is proven at scale. Five years later, that’s still true, five years later we are still waiting……”, This is because the initial competition winner for £1bn of funding to develop a demonstration project in UK awarded to the Longannet coal fired power station in Fife, Scotland was withdrawn in 2011 due to technical difficulties. Emitting 7-8Mt CO2 a year, Longannet is one of UK’s largest polluters and the country’s second largest coal fired power station and the third largest in Europe.

The carbon capture scheme had planned to pump liquefied CO2 emissions from Longannet into depleted oil and gas fields in the North Sea via a 260km pipeline. UK’s energy secretary, Chris Huhne told MPs the length of pipeline needed to take the CO2 to the undersea reservoirs made the scheme ‘unviable’.

A new competition was launched by UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) some 10 months ago, again offering £1bn to set up a demonstration scheme. To date, no award has been made.

The effect on materials of transporting CO2 has been a topic widely ignored it seems when costing such projects, an assumption often being made that the existing pipeline infrastructure can be used. This is generally not the case as the critical crack propagation length for brittle fracture is greatly reduced when transporting CO2 compared with natural gas. Also if moisture is present in the CO2, or other impurities such as CO, SOx and NOx, corrosion rates are greatly accelerated. This requires moisture to be reduced to below 60% relative humidity and the other impurities to ppm levels.

While this is technically achievable – in the USA for example 3500km of pipeline transport 45Mt/y of naturally occurring CO2 for EOR − there is considerable cost implications.

A more detailed report on this topic can be downloaded from the Steel Times International web site (see link below).

Steel Industry emissions

On average, each tonne of steel produced emits 1.9t CO2. According to the International Energy Agency, the iron and steel industry accounts for approximately 4-5% of total world CO2 emissions.

European steel industry efforts on CCS are also presently stalled. Following successful trials of top gas recycling in the blast furnace on the LKAB experimental blast furnace in Sweden which indicated a reduction in CO2 emissions of 24% without CCS or 76% with CCS (to be published in the April issue of Steel Times International) the proposed commercial scale trial planned to be conducted on one of ArcelorMittal’s blast furnace at Florange in France is now in doubt since Mr Mittal announced the closure of hot metal production on the site.