Time to act now on carbon capture: Saipem [LNG2023]
In the roadmap to reach net zero emissions, carbon capture is a mature technology that can definitely support hard-to-abate industries, given the lack of alternatives for addressing their emissions, Richard Surprenant, business development manager for carbon capture solutions at Saipem, tells NGW.
The carbon capture technology has been around for decades but has undergone an evolution with the introduction of advanced solvents, says Surprenant. Saipem has developed its own unique enzymatic technology, which uses a potassium carbonate, that rapidly accelerates capture compared with conventional amine-based methods.
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“Our technology is unique in that it uses enzymes to catalyse a specific reaction within carbon capture, which is the hydration and dehydration of CO2,” he says.
Saipem’s CO2 Solutions technology uses the same carbonic anhydrase enzyme that humans and all living organisms use during respiration. Flue gas passes through the solution, and is then hydrated and transported to the second column and then the CO2 is stripped out in a very pure form.
This interview was originally published in the LNG2023 Daily, produced by NGW during the LNG2023 conference in Vancouver July 10-13.
“This chemistry doesn’t have any of the drawbacks of amine-based technology. It’s non-toxic, it’s non-volatile, it’s inert to contaminants and it’s also regenerated at low temperature – a unique feature,” he says. “This reduces the environmental footprint and the energy footprint of carbon capture.”
For some industries such as cement manufacturing, paper production and steelmaking, CO2 is the only feasible choice for decarbonisation, Surprenent stresses. In the case of cement making, for example, most of the CO2 that is emitted does not come from the fuel that is used, but the fact that rock is being decarbonised.
“These hard-to-abate industries need to get aggressive in adopting carbon capture because they have no other option,” he says.
Saipem has undertaken more than 70 pre-combustion carbon capture projects – whether for syngas or hydrogen production, and is bringing that expertise for the post-combustion projects. The company recently announced a partnership for large-scale carbon capture projects with MHI that employs amine technology but at a mature scale. Meanwhile it is advancing its enzymatic carbon capture technology for small and medium emitters with modular plants.
Carbon capture technology can be used to capture up to 90-95% of CO2 that is emitted, depending on the concentration of CO2 in the emissions, Surprenant says. In the same or a boiler or a process furnace, for example, the 90-95% capture rate is achievable. The concentration of CO2 in emissions and the scale of projects also determines the cost.
Surprenant says recent policy developments in the US such as incentives included in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the 45Q carbon capture tax credit favoured the development of carbon capture. He notes that Canada is now trying to match this level of support with various national policies and provincial policies, including in Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec.
Over in Europe, Saipem has been able to tap European research funds to improve its carbon capture technology through the ACCSESS initiative. Surprenant also hails the EU’s incoming carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM), which encourages industrial suppliers outside of the bloc to adopt carbon capture as well.
In terms of what more policy makers could do, he stresses that there should no longer be an “optionality” for industries to adopt carbon capture, and regulation needs to enforce this. “We don’t have the luxury of time, and if we want to reach net zero we need to act now,” he said. “We need to quickly reach a situation whereby all economic development from now on must deploy carbon capture when needed.”
This feature was originally published in the LNG2023 Daily, produced by NGW during the LNG2023 conference in Vancouver July 10-13.