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Inside ADNOC's and Carbon Clean's plan to capture CO2 on mass scale

The British company's new project with the UAE energy major is hoping to address those skeptical about the cost, efficacy and viability of carbon dioxide capture as a climate solution.
Aniruddha Sharma, CEO and Chair of Carbon Clean.

LONDON — Back in 2009, Aniruddha Sharma protested on the streets of Copenhagen as part of the Indian Youth Climate Network against global inaction on climate change at the COP15 conference. His climate activism helped inspire him to establish Carbon Clean, a Britain-based carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) company that same year that originally received funding from the UK and US departments of energy before being financed by the private sector. Since then, the business has grown to have more than 85 active patent assets in more than 30 countries, including Britain, Germany, the United States and India. 

The company is also setting up shop in the Middle East. In October, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) opted to use Carbon Clean’s "CycloneCC" technology for a carbon dioxide capture project at Fertiglobe’s nitrogen fertilizer plant. Fertiglobe is a joint venture between the state-owned oil company and Korean fuel producer OCI, which runs the plant in the Al Ruways Industrial Complex in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. CycloneCC is being piloted industrially this month for the first time.

Speaking to Al-Monitor at Carbon Clean’s London headquarters, Sharma explained that traditionally, CCUS has relied on feeding gas through large absorption and stripping towers, where solvents and heat are used to separate, capture and compress CO2. These techniques have drawn skepticism because they are costly in capital and energy, and the projects typically take years to build. Given how much electricity they need to run, they have not been proven at scale to be much better for the environment than not having them. But unlike these methods, CycloneCC uses technology that allows for prefabricated modular carbon capture units half the size of conventional ones that can be set up in six to eight weeks, Sharma said. Carbon captured by each box depends on CO2 concentration and ranges from 75 to 850 tonnes per day.

The CycloneCC unit is one of several projects Fertiglobe is exploring to reduce emissions and meet the increasing demand for low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia, which can be used to power vehicles and make fertilizers. If the pilot is successful, more units will be deployed across ADNOC and Fertiglobe’s operations.  

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