Despite the mature nature of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology and its combination with various ways of carbon utilization (CCUS), the extent of its global application has been less than 0.1% in addressing the emissions challenge. The reason is the high cost of CCS compared to the prevailing price on carbon in most jurisdictions. The objective of this paper is to present potentially low-cost alternatives to CCS/CCUS.
Petroleum is the most suitable fuel for the transport needs of the society due to its unparalleled energy density and affordability. The goal of limiting atmospheric CO2 can be met equivalently either by addressing emissions from petroleum (e.g., with CCS) at a cost, or with use of low carbon fuels such as renewables. So far, alternatives to petroleum, despite some advances, have faced an even higher cost hurdle. Therefore petroleum-based fuels with carbon mitigation, deserve a fresh look. CCS has a cost range of $70 - 150/t CO2. While at this cost, oil may still have an advantage over some alternatives, it is an edge that can be further enhanced with new developing technologies such as Lower-oxidation (L-ox) among others (SPE-196109). In L-Ox, energy is derived from carbonaceous fuels in a manner that does not produce a gaseous waste product - CO2.
The current work first starts with highlighting the limitations of various now-familiar options such as hydrogen, direct air capture, or renewables etc., then it discusses the technical feasibility of electro-thermo-chemical (ETC) routes that show promise and require relatively limited further development of technology, utilizing insights and support from recent advances in unrelated fields. ETC-based approaches can be used both for deriving energy without CO2 production (as in L-Ox), as well as for chemical reduction of the CO2 (produced in the combustion process of energy generation) into ‘useless’ liquids or solids. This latter approach – ‘non-utilization and sequestration’, quite opposite to CCUS, along with L-Ox presents a more economically sustainable option for carbon abatement. This paper lends substance to support the expected feasibility of each.
Aside from providing a critique of various alternatives, this work offers new insights into developing novel electro-thermo-chemical methods for a low-cost carbon abatement. The significance of this is in helping sustain and preserve global living standards, through affordable, energy-dense, and carbon-neutralized petroleum.