POST - Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

Carbon Capture and Usage

Published Friday, November 2, 2018

Carbon capture and usage (CCU) is a basket of technologies that have collectively gained attention in recent years from industry and policymakers as a potential approach to climate change mitigation.

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It involves capturing waste carbon dioxide (CO2) from power production and industrial processes, and using it in a broad number of economically productive ways. This can include in, amongst others processes, the production of chemicals, minerals, synthetic fuels, plastics, or as a solvent.

This POSTbrief presents a broad overview of CCU processes, and reports evidence on their potential for climate change mitigation. It finds that because of a number of barriers including costs, energy requirements and the fact that the majority of processes eventually release CO2 back into the atmosphere (either immediately, or via products that break down within a short amount of time), CCU’s direct mitigation potential may be relatively small. However, CCU could develop an early-stage market for wider CO2 capture technologies. This would help to develop capture carbon and storage (CCS), which is widely accepted to be a likely and substantial component of future mitigation efforts at the global level.

POSTbriefs POST-PB-0030

Authors: Sarah Mander; Jack Miller

Topics: Climate change, Electricity, Energy, Oil, petrol and natural gas, Research and innovation, Science, Utilities, Waste management

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The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology produces independent, balanced and accessible briefings on public policy issues related to science and technology.