Foreword to the CO2 Forum 3rd edition
by C. Fussler and A. Quadrelli, conference chair :
“ Is a chemistry that uses carbon dioxide as a raw material for fuels, inorganic materials, chemicals and polymers to attenuate climate change, one of the most daunting side-effect of our economic growth, a realistic solution for tomorrow’s prosperity?
The third CO2 Forum will review the advances made by leading experts in turning the carbon emissions problem into sustainable chemistry solutions.
Progress in energy efficiency, in the deployment of non-carbon sources of energy, and in reforestation cannot, together, produce the carbon dioxide emission reductions recommended by the large majority of scientists to stabilize its long-term global atmospheric concentration at a maximum of 450 ppm.
The International Energy Agency proposes an ambitious Roadmap for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). Its Key point: A 450 ppm scenario requires scaling up the yearly capture and storage to 50 million tons of CO2 by 2020, 2 billion tons by 2030, and up to 7 billion tons by 2050.
Most of the technology steps for CCS are reachable. But consider the scale and the time frame: The challenge is to create and finance the infrastructure, to find secure geological sites for storing about 100 000 cubic kilometres (120 billion tons) of CO2, and negotiate the public acceptance, to pump and keep it down at a rate that will soon amount to all the oil and natural gas extracted yearly…
The CO2 Forum is preoccupied with the pumping-back share of this gigantic loop. The alternative technology steps are also available to reuse CO2 as a feedstock for well-known commodity chemicals, particularly oil and natural gas derivatives. One could wish therefore to replace the fossil carbon extraction with the chemical conversion of CO2 from large-scale sources. This would reduce the net transfers of fossil carbon to the atmosphere by closing a growing portion of the industrial carbon cycle.
But CO2 is a very stable molecule. Carbon recovery and conversion only make environmental sense if they are achieved with no net CO2 emissions compared to storage or other avoidance alternatives. They depend therefore on the exclusive use of process waste heat and power from renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, hydro and oceans. But in return they could contribute to a better integration of these sources by storing and distributing their power as standard fuels with significantly higher energy densities than current storage systems.
Such conversion processes could be integrated with existing large-scale emitters like utilities, cement and metals factories. This would mostly eliminate the questions of CO2 transport and underground storage. But other challenges of scale and timeframes must be resolved: the rapid deployment of an additional renewable energy capacity, the balancing of variable energy flows with constant CO2 streams and the matching of conversion kinetics, the financing and deployment of the conversion facilities and the retirement of stranded fossil carbon assets…
Adding to the efforts in energy efficiency and renewable non-carbon sources, the efforts of closing the carbon cycle will be a source of innovations and valuable sustainable chemistry solutions.
The agenda of this third CO2 Forum will try to clarify these questions in a fruitful dialogue between scientists, industry emitters and users, and policy makers. This is essential for anticipating and resolving bottlenecks and barriers.”