* Carbon capture projects repeatedly delayed
* Seen crucial to clean up fossil fuel power plants
By Gerard Wynn
LONDON, July 21 A dream climate change cure to
turn planet-warming greenhouse gases into useful products from
jet fuel to plastics will take years to develop from the lab and
pilot projects, a report found on Thursday.
Pilot projects already use carbon dioxide (CO2) to feed
plants, for example to boost tomatoes in glasshouses, while
laboratories have tested the manufacture of concrete, plastics
and oils, but costs are high and projects depend on concentrated
streams of CO2.
Scaling up depends on applying the technology to fossil fuel
power plants, trapping the greenhouse gas from a diluted mixture
of other flue gases.
Converting the trapped CO2 into useful products and minerals
would avoid the cost of burying it underground in empty oil
wells, as planned under another untested process called carbon
capture and storage (CCS).
"At the moment it's a relatively new technology in the
shadows of CCS," said Sheffield University's Peter Styring,
co-author of the report, "Carbon capture and utilisation in the
green economy", commissioned by the UK-based Centre for Low
Possible applications centre around chemical conversion of
CO2 to make plastics or fuel, or else feeding the gas to algae
to make bio-oils, or combining it with minerals to make
The report listed pilot projects including the planned
manufacture of cement from power plant carbon emissions in
Australia, and a synthetic diesel made from CO2 in New Mexico.
German chemicals company Bayer (BAYGn.DE) earlier this year
launched a pilot plant to produce plastics using CO2 from a
power plant, under the company's "Dream Production" programme.
In algae applications, CO2 is used to boost natural
photosynthesis, in cultures which are then squashed to make
bio-oils for a range of products including jet fuel, diesel,
cosmetics, food, animal feed or soil conditioner.
The trouble is bio-oil costs must be cut ten-fold to be
economic, said co-author Hans Reith at the Energy Research
Centre of the Netherlands.
Making construction materials by reacting CO2 with minerals
found in naturally occurring rocks or in ash from power plants
is challenged by the vast amounts of feedstock required.
Practicable applications may be at the local scale, for
example trapping CO2 from waste incineration, to feed the gas to
algae for the manufacture of diesel to run garbage trucks.
A similar report on the "re-use" of CO2, published by the
Global CCS Institute earlier this year found that "most of the
emerging reuse technologies still have years of development
ahead before they reach the technical maturity required for
deployment at commercial scale."
($1 = 0.704 Euros)
(Editing by Keiron Henderson)