What is CCUS Technology?
Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) is a technology that can capture and make effective use of the high concentrations of CO₂ emitted by industrial activities. Consequently, it has a key role to play in decarbonization and the addressing the challenge of global climate change. Alongside efforts to promote CCUS, Japan, through its "MOONSHOT program, is also actively developing and promoting Direct Air Capture technology that can recover CO₂ directly from the atmosphere beyond the emissions generated by industrial activities. Please see more information about this exciting program here.
The chart below tracks CO₂ recovery costs in the US, China and Japan. While costs are currently high, they are forecast to fall significantly by 2050.
By 2050, the global market to support the development of CCUS is forecast to grow to 10~12 trillion yen (about USD100-120 billion). As the chart below shows, the potential market will include investment in plants to facilitate carbon capture storage as well as the chemicals and membranes required for the separation and recovery of CO₂.
Industrial Applications of CCUS
In the cement and concrete industrial sectors, large amounts of CO₂ are released during the firing of limestone and clay that splits the materials into CO₂ and calcium oxide (CAO). To address this challenge, research projects are advancing worldwide to pilot new technologies that recover and recycle the CO₂ generated in this process as well as develop new concrete products that actively absorb CO₂ from the atmosphere and capture it inside the concrete when the concrete hardens.
In the fuel and basic chemicals industrial sectors, there is an urgent need to promote of bio-jet fuel to help the aviation industry reduce its carbon footprint. One potential solution is new technology that produces synthetic gas from various carbon sources such as recovered CO₂. When combined with chemical processes and biotechnology based on catalytic reactions and microorganismsm, this synthetic gas can now be used to produce synthetic fuels and basic chemicals that can contribute to decarbonization in these sectors.
Although the potential for absolute CO₂ emissions reduction is relatively small compared to other industrial sectors because of low production volumes, innovations in the fine chemicals sector do offer opportunities to make a meaningful environmental impact. There is a growing body of research worldwide focused on technologies that can convert CO₂ and biomass into oxygenated compounds such as high-functional plastics.
Japanese Firms Leading Green Innovation
Pioneering CO₂ Chemistry at Asahi Kasei
Asahi Kasei is deeply engaged in the development of technology which drives carbon recycling such as green hydrogen and CO₂ chemistry. In 2002, Asahi Kasei became the first company in the world to successfully develop technology and begin commercial production of polycarbonate resin from CO₂. Looking forward, Asahi Kasei plans to leverage its expertise in leading-edge catalyst and energy saving process technologies to promote the development of other functional chemicals such as urethane raw materials. In just a few years time, the Company aims to lead the world again by bringing these functional chemical to the commercial production stage.
Since 2002, when Asahi Kasei Co., Ltd. become the first company anywhere in the world to commercially produce polycarbonate resin from CO₂, the Company has licensed this technology globally. In 2016, this technology accounted for 16% of the 4.75 million tons of the global polycarbonate production. The Company is currently piloting a new CO₂ 2 polycarbonate manufacturing process aimed at achieving energy savings across the manufacturing process (Please see the chart above).
MHI Engineering – Developer of Low-Cost CO₂ Separation and Recovery Technology
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engineering has developed exhaust gas CO₂ recovery equipment that can recover more than 90% of CO₂ from factories and power plants. The Company has already supplied 16 units to locations around the world. The combination of high energy-saving performance and durability offered by this equipment generates significant cost savings for operators. With support from Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), MHI Engineering and Mitsubishi Gas Chemical have launched a joint research program to test technologies for the effective recycling of CO₂ emissions at a refinery at Tomakai City, Hokkaido, Japan as well as the production of methanol from captured CO₂ emissions. Additionally, MHI recently partnered with Drax, the operator of the UK’s biggest renewable generator, to install a pilot facility to demonstrate Bio-Energy with Carbon Capture & Storage (BECCS), technology. The partners are aiming to launch commercial operations by 2027. BECCS is expected to make a major contribution to accelerating progress on the road to beyond zero carbon.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engineering has completed installation of CO₂ recovery plants at 14 locations worldwide with another two units under construction. These plants feature innovative proprietary technologies such as high-performance absorbents that enable high CO₂ absorption rates and energy savings, making Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engineering a global leader in CO₂ separation and recovery technology.