Explainer: what is carbon capture and utilisation?

● By Katy Armstrong, University of Sheffield ● Carbon and carbon dioxide are found all around us. All living things contain carbon – it’s one of the essential building blocks of life and is fundamental to many chemical processes. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is produced by respiration and combustion and is used by plants in photosynthesis. However we produce more CO2 than can be absorbed naturally as part of the carbon cycle, hence why atmospheric CO2 levels have risen to the highest point measured for 800,000 years. Most everyday items contain carbon, usually as plastics – computers, medicines, cars, clothes, buildings. Most of this carbon originates from petroleum or coal, fossil fuels buried underground for millions of years. We could extract the carbon from the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere instead, but this presents scientific and engineering challenges. The predominant view is that CO2 is a waste product, and a polluting one at that, even though small amounts are used to carbonate fizzy drinks, or to make urea or useful industrial solvents. But because of our fossil fuel energy use, we have large amounts of CO2 available that could be put to better use as a resource. This could be done without disrupting the natural carbon cycle, while reusing the carbon to create new products would also decrease fossil fuel use. CO2 can be captured from industrial sources such as power plants, steel or cement works, or collected from the air. Then using chemical processes, scientists can extract the carbon from the mix of gases and particles, providing the raw material for new products. Among the products underway are green fuels, methanol, memory foams, plastics, pharmaceuticals, cement and building materials all from “waste” CO2. The process requires chemical catalysts to react with the CO2, but the energy required could be provided by renewables, so the process could be carbon negative. This is called Carbon Dioxide Utilisation, or CDU ...Zum vollständigen Artikel

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