In this two-part blog series, we explore the main motivations of the ACCSESS project and how it aims to contribute to achieving a climate-neutral Europe by 2050.
If we are to make CCS a relevant, large-scale technology for cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, several barriers need to be addressed, and its deployment must be accelerated. This second post focuses on how ACCSESS has redefined “CCS” to more accurately reflect the project’s work with removing those barriers and accelerating CCS innovation.
As an initialism, “CCS” has a multitude of meanings: “carbon capture and storage”, “CO2 capture and storage”, “carbon capture and sequestration”. However, they all typically refer to the process of capturing CO2 and storing it.
In the ACCSESS project, we have redefined “CCS” as “CO2 capture, chains and society” in order to reflect the key challenges that need to be addressed for CCS to be successfully implemented across Europe.
C: CO2 Capture
ACCSESS will demonstrate innovative CO2 capture and use technology prototypes in an operational environment. It will also explore the most energy- and cost-efficient ways to integrate capture technologies in industrial installations, with a focus on industries that emit partly or fully biogenic CO2.
Efficient heat integration enables the cost and energy requirement for the capture step of the CCS chain to be significantly reduced. This is particularly relevant for capture integration in industrial processes. Process integration is critical for achieving the cost-reduction potential of implementing the capture technology. In addition, it will potentially enable net carbon dioxide removal (CDR) from the atmosphere.
CO2 capture testing will focus on three industrial sectors (pulp and paper, waste to energy and cement) while CO2 use testing will focus on the cement sector. CO2 capture integration activities will focus on pulp and paper, cement, waste to energy and biorefineries.
ACCSESS features three key innovations:
Innovation 1: ACCSESS will demonstrate a post-combustion CO2 capture, using a non-amine, non-toxic enzyme-enhanced solvent combined with a novel and compact rotary packed bed (RPB) absorber. The integrated technology will be demonstrated in two different industrial environments: a pulp and paper mill in Sweden (Stora Enso), and a cement kiln in Poland (HeidelbergCement). The system prototype will be demonstrated in an operational environment (technology readiness level 7 – TRL7). In doing so, ACCSESS hopes to gather knowledge across multiple levels: CO2 capture from three types of industrial exhaust gases with varying shares of biogenic CO2, as well as TCM, using the CO2 solutions by Saipem technology and the RPB absorber by Prospin.
Innovation 2: The lack of steam or low-temperature waste heat in many cement kiln sites calls for radically new thinking in order to minimise CO2 capture costs and energy penalties. ACCSESS will develop a new cement kiln with integrated amine-based CO2 capture technology that is designed to operate with biomass as the fuel. The kiln will combine structural elements (e.g. a preheater tower and CO2 absorber), and operational synergies will be identified.
Innovation 3: CO2 use testing will be addressed for the cement sector through tests of an innovative, continuous two-step mineral carbonation process. This solution not only enables the permanent storage of CO2 in novel constructions, but it also enables CDR on a smaller scale than geological storage, provided that the CO2 originates from biogenic sources. The technology is currently being validated in a relevant environment (TRL5), and will advance to system prototype demonstration in an operational environment (TRL7) in ACCSESS.
Complex strategies will be required for the cost-efficient deployment of a European CCS infrastructure, including capture deployment timelines, technological transport options, CO2 sink availability, spatial and time deployment constraints, and the cost specificity of each CCS chain item. The successful roll out of CCS chains at the required time and scale will require holistic approaches across sectors and national borders, and that involve several stakeholders. By optimising CCUS chains and completing comprehensive studies that cover business models, legal/regulatory and environmental aspects, ACCSESS will provide the tools and expertise needed to reduce or remove barriers to decision-makers across the CCS chain as well as society at large.
ACCSESS will develop and improve CCUS chains from continental Europe and the Baltic area to the North Sea, to provide access routes to the flexible, ship-based offshore CO2 transport and storage infrastructures that are under development in the North Sea. Furthermore, ACCSESS will go beyond the area of interest of the current PCIs and contribute to unlock two new areas in Europe for CO2 transport to and storage under the North Sea: in continental Europe and in the Baltic Sea.
The work will include the development, design, and techno-economic evaluation of several CCS chains that are based on technological solutions for CO2 capture and transport that are both available now and currently under development.
In addition, ACCSESS will address the regulatory frameworks, gaps, and environmental performance of CCS chains. An open-source CO2 network optimization model that considers how CCS networks can evolve over space and time will also be developed. In order to achieve a multi-scale approach to de-risking CCUS chains, research will be conducted on technological solutions for enabling low-cost CO2 transport, such as increasing the understanding of the kinetics of dry ice formation and melting when handling CO2 along the transport chain, defining safe loading and offloading procedures, and addressing aspects of water content design specifications for CO2 transport.
In Europe and around the world, cities and urban development are strong driving forces for reaching climate goals, which has substantial implications for European industry.
ACCSESS will engage and inform stakeholders about CCS, its benefits for society as a whole, and the marginal additional cost of products produced with CCS. The aim is to create an understanding and acceptance among cities and citizens of the solutions that CCS can contribute in order to develop a low-carbon society that is needed for combatting global warming.
For CCS to successfully contribute to significantly curbing CO2 emissions, it needs to become an integrated and obvious part of the society and its infrastructure. In this context, a main hypothesis in ACCSESS is that cities striving for sustainable urban development can become drivers for CCS implementation. This part of ACCSESS will also synthesize the project results as packages in order to foster CCS technology and business model replicability.
Concepts of supply and value chains were used in earlier work on cement, steel, and pulp and paper value chains. ACCSESS will further show how CCS and CDR can substantially reduce the carbon footprint of end products, with only a marginal increase in cost.
ACSSESS will work with potential opportunities to make carbon negativity a valued aspect of a product. Increasing the demand for carbon-negative products could, by extension, increase the demand for CCS. Furthermore, cities and governments could use public procurement of low-carbon materials to achieve their climate ambitions at a reasonable cost.
Read more: Is CCS really so expensive?
Strengthened climate goals and new investment incentives have resulted in an unprecedented momentum for CCS across the world. Plans for more than 100 new facilities were announced in 2021. It is becoming more and more evident that CCS technologies will play an important role in meeting net-zero CO2 targets, and many net-zero plans list CCS as a necessity, not an option. Therefore, CCS has never been more relevant – however, work is still needed if we are to deploy CCS technologies at the scale needed and achieve a net-zero Europe by 2050… and it cannot be done alone.
The ACCSESS consortium includes partners from major European industry sectors that are relevant to the successful implementation of CCS. The cross-border and interdisciplinary nature of ACCSESS’ work, as well as the consideration of cities as key drivers for sustainability, will lay the foundations for activating the required regional and international cooperation needed to ensure a clean and secure energy transition at affordable prices. ACCSESS will also engage with environmental authorities in Germany and Sweden to further develop guidelines for how to regulate CO2 capture installations.
In short, ACCSESS brings together researchers and CCS stakeholders from several European countries in a joint effort to accelerate CCS deployment. By addressing CCS innovation related to “CO2 capture, chains and society”, as well as investigating drastic CO2 emissions cuts and removal in four key industries, ACCSESS will contribute to the increasing momentum towards the deployment of CCS technology in Europe and provide replicable CCS pathways to achieve a climate-neutral Europe by 2050.