Canada-based CO2 Solutions Inc., an innovator in the field of enzyme-enabled carbon capture technology, announced that it has exceeded the second set of technical performance milestones for its oil sands project.
CO2 Solutions’ technology platform uses carbonic anhydrase to accelerate the capture of CO2 with energy-efficient solvents. Carbonic anhydrase is the most powerful catalyst known for the hydration of CO2—i.e., the conversion of carbon dioxyde to bicarbonate and protons. With these solvents, the use of the enzyme technology provides an economically attractive carbon capture solution with efficient capture and lower energy consumption.
In essence, the technology is an ‘industrial lung’ which takes advantage of CA’s capacity for the highly efficient capture and release of carbon dioxide in natural systems, adapted to industrial gas effluent streams. The approach follows in the footsteps of other enzymes successfully deployed to increase the efficiency of industrial processes, from biofuels to detergents to food production.
|CO2 Solutions’ process. Click to enlarge.|
CO2 Solutions’ patented process operated at the 0.5 ton/day scale and demonstrated that it can lower the cost of CO2 capture to well below that associated with current carbon capture technology on the basis of cost per tonne captured.
The results position CO2 Solutions’ technology as a viable platform for carbon emissions reductions as well as for the beneficial reuse of CO2 such as in Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) in the oil industry. The oil sands project will now proceed to the pilot demonstration phase of testing at approximately 15 tonne-CO2/day scale where process performance will be validated in the field towards commercial deployment. To this end, CO2 Solutions is in advanced discussions with a major Canadian energy company to host this pilot installation.
These milestones are included in the Contribution Agreements for the Government of Canada’s ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative (ecoEII) and Alberta’s Climate Change and Emissions Management (CCEMC) Corporation grants funding the project.
Canadian industry and government are looking for ways to reduce emissions from the oil sands, with carbon capture and storage (CCS) being a mitigation option of significant interest. However, the cost of conventional CCS technologies is prohibitive to broad commercial deployment. Results from the testing are in line with the previously announced improvement of a least 33% in energy consumption compared to the existing carbon capture technologies for the capture of 90% of the CO2 emissions from a typical once-through steam generator in in-situ oil sands operations.
One major improvement over conventional processing is that nil-value energy from the operation is used as the main heat source thus decreasing further the operating costs. Industrially optimized enzyme catalysts employed in the testing demonstrated robust performance both in absorption and solvent regeneration.
The solvent employed is less expensive, extremely stable, and environmentally benign compared to conventionally-used solvents. Emissions of dangerous by-products are zero.
Nathalie J.M.C. Penders-van Elk, Espen S. Hamborg, Patrick J.G. Huttenhuis, Sylvie Fradette, Jonathan A. Carley, Geert F. Versteeg (2013) “Kinetics of absorption of carbon dioxide in aqueous amine and carbonate solutions with carbonic anhydrase,” International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, Volume 12, Pages 259-268 doi: 10.1016/j.ijggc.2012.10.016