Innovations Make the World go Round: CCUS

World is changing with a speed never seen before. Although the direction is set by the global issues and trends, the need of change is always addressed to the businesses and society. Furthermore to products and services we all use. This is the point where research and business face each other – creation of new.

When we are developing new, we cannot usually lean on the current technologies only – that is why innovations are required. Instead of leaning on assumptions and scenarios only, best innovations lean on something we can count on: they should be practical, adaptable and inexpensive but there is still no chance to play it safe. Great opportunities are always worth of small risks. Risks can be further decreased by the cooperation between the right parties: businesses, research and the society. One of the best practices of such collaborative development is to do it through business ecosystems like we do in BECCU project. It’s not magic, usually we are stronger together.

 

Bio-based CCUS

The opportunities in collaborative development of bio-energy CCUS technologies are moving towards industrial scale in full speed. For instance, in UK Drax Group, Econic Technologies and Deep Branch Biotechnologies are developing a process to generate plastics, protein and animal feedstock out of biomass power generation CO2 emissions. Great example of approaching common goals together, for welfare of the Earth and future of the business. Our BECCU project partner ‘The Chemical Industry Federation of Finland’ published recently a thorough article on promising CCUS concepts developed in Finland – many of which are on the edge of commercialization.

VTT’s range of CCUS activities is wide and it represents our vision about vital activities towards the world of the future. BECCU-project’s approach is one of the concrete activities on this journey and we have a clear goal: sustainable chemicals and fuels affordably. That is why we have ambitious group of companies involved on our journey towards sustainable CO2 based products. Our partners are making reliable products for industry and consumers already now – we all have something to lean on right from the start.

 

Fuels and chemicals from CO2

These are both excellent options to focus on – they are currently based strongly on fossil resources, moreover creating massive CO2 footprint globally. Fuels and chemicals are needed also in the future and CCU-based alternatives could be used similarly as current products. This is mandatory for creating new successful business for existing infrastructure. For instance in aviation and transportation fuels, current use of fossil resources is huge and sustainable alternatives should meet the current and ever-increasing need. That is why the entire palette of options must be in use. There is not only one solution and all potential paths need the first step to reach their full potential.

Profitability of CCU derived fuels rely heavily on electricity prices and is highly vulnerable to the oil market politics. Consequently, the first big moves in industrial scale CCU are too risky to be taken in the transportation fuel industry. Luckily, there are other options also in the chemical industry to boost up the development of CCU technologies. For instance, polyols used in construction materials and adhesives manufacturing offer high economic potential to be produced using CO2. This is crucial for the scale-up and market entry of all CCUS technologies – after all, big investments need concrete results to lean on.

 

Concrete and scalable results

That is why the whole value chain from bio-energy based CO2 feedstocks to polyurethane end-products will be demonstrated in BECCU with cooperation of our partners. Jointly executed pilot scale demonstrations offer excellent opportunities for both discovery of new innovations and development of current technologies. All this with shared R&D investments, for common good.

We will dive deep into our concept, demonstrations and partner activities in our following blog articles.

 

Jonne Hirvonen
Research Scientist, VTT