A Case for the ‘U’ in CCUS

There is no doubt that carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) is one of the most important strategies that needs to be implemented to address large scale industry emissions.  

This has been highlighted once again on Monday 24th May, as the UK Government announced a £166 million funding package into the development of green technologies, including CCUS. 

However, although the need for CCUS technologies has been emphasized throughout hard-to-abate industries, the ‘utilisation’ element has been under-represented. This is neglecting the vast potential value of carbon dioxide and – importantly, that CO2 can be ‘stored’ in its ‘use’.  

Capture, Use, Build.

Technologies that enable the capture of carbon and use CO2 to manufacture valuable low carbon – and even, carbon negative – products, can provide a real circular solution to decarbonise industry. Such products include aggregates used in construction. They permanently store captured CO2 thereby, reducing the carbon footprint of the construction project and provide an additional revenue stream for the industrial plant.  

As we move to a circular economy, as part of our wider sustainability efforts, there is great potential in mineralized CO2-based products entering the marketplace. Specifically, carbon negative aggregates can be used in ready-mix concrete, concrete blocks, pipe bedding, green roofing and road construction. By using such alternatives, the quarrying of natural aggregate resources can be reduced. 

Additionally, utilisation technologies are not geographically bound to carbon capture and storage clusters. The cement industry, responsible for up to 8% of global CO2 emissions, face this challenge of location. Compared to most other large-scale CO2 emitters, cement plants are commonly isolated from other industries and are distant from these evolving clusters such as the Port of Rotterdam, Humberside and Teesside. Here plans are progressing to build the infrastructure to store captured in CO2 geological locations.  

Through emphasizing the ‘U’ in CCUS technologies, the gates open for further strides to meet Net Zero targets in an economically viable fashion. Utilisation options are not bound by geographic limitations, can permanently store COand through manufacturing CO2-based products, contribute to the realisation of the circular economy.