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Greenhouse Gases

BASF and Air Liquide win EU funding for carbon-capture project

Firms get slice of $1.2 billion in government grants for 7 large decarbonization efforts

by Craig Bettenhausen
November 24, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 43

Two people standing near a factory consisting of many metal tubes and vessels.
Credit: Air Liquide
Air Liquide's Cryocap CO2 -capture technology is in use at its hydrogen plant in France.

The European Union’s Innovation Fund will put a total of more than $1.2 billion into seven decarbonization efforts across the continent, including a carbon-capture-and-sequestration (CCS) project at BASF’s chemical complex in Antwerp, Belgium. That project, dubbed Kairos@C, will install partner company Air Liquide’s Cryocap cryogenic carbon-capture technology, as well as infrastructure to pump the carbon dioxide into permanent undersea storage.

Over 10 years starting in 2025, the firms say, they will sequester 14.2 million metric tons of CO2 beneath the North Sea.

Though not as common today as systems that catch CO2 in amine solvents, cryogenic carbon capture is an up-and-coming technology. The Cryocap platform planned for the Antwerp complex is already in use at Air Liquide’s hydrogen plant in Port-Jérôme-sur-Seine, France, where the firm says it has been making low-carbon H2 since 2015.

The BASF–Air Liquide project will lower the activation barrier for more CCS by chemical firms and other heavy industry, says David Morrow, a carbon-capture-and-removal policy expert at American University. Each installation reduces risk for the fast-growing CCS industry, making the next project easier to finance. And in Antwerp, other chemical firms with plants nearby—including Solvay, Eurochem, and Ineos—could pipe their own captured CO2 into the same infrastructure.

Of the seven decarbonization projects funded in this first round of grants from the EU, four involve CCS, notes Guloren Turan, advocacy manager for the nonprofit wing of the Global CCS Institute. The other projects focus on green steel, converting municipal solid waste to methanol, and scaling up a new type of solar cell. A second round of grants is now open for applications.

“CCS is essential to the decarbonisation of hard-to-abate sectors like cement and chemicals,” Turan says in an email. “We anticipate CCS networks—multiple capture points with shared transport and storage infrastructure—will continue to emerge and provide economies of scale.”



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