What is Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage?

Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) is an integrated suite of technologies that can prevent large quantities of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO₂) from being released into the atmosphere.

Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage or CCUS refers to technologies that capture carbon dioxide (CO2) and store it safely underground so that it does not contribute to climate change. CCUS includes capturing CO2 from both emission sources (referred to as point-source capture) and directly from the atmosphere.

Point-source capture is when an emission source, like an industrial facility, is equipped with technology allowing the capture and diversion to storage of CO2, preventing it from being emitted. It is also possible to remove CO2 emissions from the atmosphere through direct air capture and storage (DACCS) or bioenergy with capture and storage (BECCS).

CCUS can be applied across sectors vital to our economy, including cement, steel, fertilizers, power generation and natural gas processing, and can be used to produce clean hydrogen.

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How Does CCS Work?

Carbon capture and storage involves three steps – capture, transport, and storage.

Step 1: Capture

During capture, CO2 is separated from other gases produced at large industrial facilities – such as steel mills, cement plants, petrochemical facilities, coal, and gas power plants – or from the atmosphere. There are several capture methods in use – all are proven and effective, with different methods applied based on the emissions source.

Step 2: Transport

Once separated, the CO2 is compressed for transportation. This means increasing pressure so that the CO2 behaves like a liquid. The compressed CO2 is then dehydrated before being sent to the transport system. Pipelines are the most common mode of transport for large quantities of CO2. However, CO2 transport by ship, train, or truck are also options.

Step 3: Storage

CO2 is injected into deep underground rock formations, often at depths of one kilometer or more, where it is permanently stored. These rock formations are consistent with what has held oil and gas underground for millions of years.

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The acceleration of CCUS technology is critical to reducing carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions and reducing the costs of tackling the climate crisis.

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CCUS and Climate Change

Climate change is the most urgent challenge facing humanity today, and the science is clear that we must use every tool at our disposal to avoid the worst of its impacts. CCUS plays an essential role in mitigating climate change, complementing energy efficiency, renewable power, electrification, nature-based solutions and other approaches.

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