It is well understood at this point that carbon dioxide is a deadly pollutant that is heating the atmosphere. What’s less well understood is that CO2 is also a useful feedstock, an input into a variety of industrial processes. From plastics to concrete, CO2 is a basic industrial building block — a valuable commodity.
To many climate campaigners, this suggests that maybe we should use more of it. Maybe, if the industries that use CO2 could be incentivized to increase their use, we could use enough to substantially decrease the amount we emit into the atmosphere.
Use more; emit less. That is the basic idea behind carbon capture and utilization (CCU), one of the hottest topics in clean energy these days.
In my first post in this series, I introduced the concept of CCU and its basic forms. In the second, I took a close look at what is currently the most common industrial use of CO2, namely enhanced oil recovery (EOR), whereby CO2 is injected in spent wells to squeeze out more oil and gas. (It’s complicated.)
In this post, we’re going to take a look at the other industrial uses of CO2 to try to get a sense of how viable they are, what their total potential might be, and whether they might play a significant role in the fight against climate change. Fun times!