Technological lecture on decarbonization: CO2 capture, use and storage
The Energy Transition Directorate (DITE, in Spanish), headed up by Andrea Rocca, gave a seminar on "The energy transition in the steel industry." The event showcased contributions by experts from various Techint Group companies, prompting a discussion on the opportunities offered by disruptive technologies accelerating the decarbonization process.
The energy, transportation, and construction industries emit billions of tons of carbon dioxide each year. The steel, cement and petrochemicals sectors in particular are hard to abate because they require large volumes of processes that happen at very high temperatures. There is thus a pressing need for carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) initiatives capable of driving the process of decarbonization across these sectors.
CCUS is a safe and proven technology designed to capture and make effective use of carbon dioxide before it’s released into the atmosphere from specific points with a concrete physical location, such as a chimney. This includes direct air capture technology which removes CO2 directly from the atmosphere.
As part of the Techint Group companies’ commitment to emissions reduction, and against the backdrop of activities marking World Environment Day, the Group’s Energy Transition Directorate, headed up by Andrea Rocca, hosted an informative seminar. The event was an opportunity to hear the latest news and insights from experts from across the Group’s companies, aimed at leveling up people’s technical information and enriching teams working in the area of decarbonization.
At the event, the speakers shared their vision of how CCUS technology can play a vital role in the decarbonization process towards achieving a CO2-free global economy and neutralizing the emissions caused by human activity.
A fund to speed up decarbonization
At the seminar, Marco Tivelli, Chief Technology Officer of Tecpetrol, drew attention to the new initiative TechEnergy Ventures, "the first time that the Techint Group has an investment fund for new technologies." The Fund has earmarked USD 150 million to invest in disruptive technologies aimed at speeding up the process of decarbonization, and in companies set up to solve specific environmental problems. TechEnergy Ventures’ investment fund will be carrying out research with a view to investing in lithium processing technologies, renewable energies, hydrogen, carbon capture, and options to reduce the carbon footprint of steel mills. TechEnergy Ventures is analyzing hundreds of companies, all of which are technology and innovation start-ups. As regards CCUS, the main criteria concern efficiency levels, consumption and capture costs, with the latter being the main driver for innovation.
Regarding CO2 use, there is a growing range of exciting alternatives appearing on the scene where TechEnergy Ventures is analyzing options for potential products that could employ reused CO2, including industries and segments such as:
- Construction materials (types of cement, concrete, asphalt).
- Fuels (methane, methanol).
- Chemicals (formic acid).
- Food and pharmaceuticals.
- New materials. There is particular interest in these and the aim is to start talking to prestigious universities and their research departments in this regard.
Disruptive initiatives in Brazil
During the seminar, Francisco Grosse, from Tecpetrol's Business Development Unit, explained the process involved in building a carbon capture and storage (CCS) project and what’s needed to build a business case. This includes data on the point of capture, regulatory frameworks and incentive schemes, as well as storage and transportation options. He emphasized that Brazil offers medium-to-long term advantages as an option as it will require economies of scale (because of high transport costs), a competitive and clear regulatory framework, and well-developed incentive schemes.
Josefina D'Hiriart, Tecpetrol Reservoir Geologist, took the floor to explain the importance of understanding the different features of subsoil when evaluating the storage of captured CO2. She went into detail about the geological criteria and requirements to be taken into account when planning the construction of a storage complex and enumerated the different kinds of CO2 storage reservoirs with the pros and cons of each one: depleted deposits, saline aquifers (such as salt caves, basalts and coal mantles) and enhanced oil recovery processes (EOR).
Malena Pizzul, from Tecpetrol’s planning unit, reaffirmed the sense of priority as she gave an outline of the principal incentives designed to encourage the development of CCS projects. For instance, the U.S. provides tax credits to encourage companies to capture and store CO2, while Europe and China have an emissions trading scheme (ETS) in place. However, there are no regulations at either national or regional level elsewhere. In Brazil, although no specific incentives have yet been adopted, there are plans to grow the voluntary carbon trading market and a draft bill is in process aimed at regulating CO2 storage.
To wrap up the session, Andrea Rocca pointed out that, “despite the overall lack of incentives in Latin America, the transition is going ahead, as its being driven by the demands that other countries and our customers are making.” He emphasized that “it’s vital that we prepare properly for all the challenges ahead. This is why we’re working on setting up ecosystems with universities and members from the world energy and technology community at R&D level.”