Cielo blu con nuvole

Capture, storage and reuse of CO₂

Our projects to capture carbon dioxide then store it forever or reuse it in innovative ways.

Technology

We have several ongoing projects in the world of CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage ) and CCU (Carbon Capture and Utilisation) technology. under the supervision of the Research Centre of San Donato Milanese and the Renewable Energy and Environmental R&D Centre in Novara.

In relation to the technologies, with regards to the capturing stage, we are developing systems that use ionic liquids that are more efficient than conventional amine-based liquids.

Where storage is concerned, thanks to our key expertise in geology, we are using an integrated approach to capture, transport, fluid-to-rock interaction and monitoring studies relating to the geological storage of CO2. On the operations front, we want to create the world's largest CO2 storage hub off the coast of Ravenna, taking advantage of depleted deposits and disused assets in the area. At an international level, we are also partners in two CCS projects being set up in the UK: HyNet North West, in the Liverpool Bay area on the north-west coast, and Net Zero Teesside, on the north-east coast. Outside Europe, we are also looking at opportunities to develop CCS projects in Australia and East Timor. 

The range of technologies we are developing for the utilization phase is more complex. A first line of research relates to the ultra-intensified bio-fixation of CO₂ through the cultivation of microalgae in LED photobioreactors with photosynthesis optimised wavelengths. Another technology involves a process of CO2 mineralisation with natural mineral phases and the use of the products obtained during the making of cement, which we patented in April 2021. A third area of research looks at ways to use CO₂ in the production of methanol, an energy vector with huge potential. One larger-scale project in particular also aims to capture CO2 directly on board vehicles.

Albert#2, La C02 come risorsa

ALBERT#2 - CO₂ as a resource

Context

Capturing CO2 for permanent storage or reusing it in other production cycles is one of the key ways of reducing its concentrations in the atmosphere and limiting the increase in the average global temperature to within two degrees Celsius, as required by the Paris Agreements on climate change. The CCS and CCU technologies are part of our decarbonization strategy, together with the right mix of renewables and natural gas, energy savings generated by increased efficiency and the protection and conservation of forests. Developing the corresponding plants on an industrial scale also has the advantage of generating a virtuous circle through the principles of the circular economy, with positive effects on overall growth and development. One additional benefit would stem from the possibility of using the surplus electricity production typical of generating energy from renewable sources, and from solar and wind power in particular, to power the capturing, storage and reuse of CO2.    

Technological challenge

The main difficulty facing any method of capturing and reusing CO2 is the fact that the carbon dioxide molecule is the most stable of the carbon compounds, meaning that breaking it down or binding it to any other substance always requires a lot of energy. There is no single solution for doing away with this constraint imposed by thermodynamics, but research has been studying those reaction pathways that consume the lowest possible amounts of energy. With this in mind, we are focusing our efforts on ionic fluids - a proprietary technology that makes it possible to intercept CO2 in the atmosphere but with lower emission and energy consumption levels than conventional amine-based methods. We are simultaneously conducting research alongside the MIT with a view to developing high-efficiency electrochemical capture systems. The chemical reduction of CO2 to methanol using hydrogen produced by electrolysing water using renewable electricity is another of the challenges we are facing; indeed, methanol produced in this way can be reused to produce energy or used directly as a component of automotive fuel, thus reducing the carbon footprint of the entire process.

Come catturare e valorizzare la C02

How to capture and valorize CO2 - Energy Transition | Eni Video Channel

Industrial integration

The CCS and CCU technologies can be used to transform CO2 from a cost into an opportunity, and this is especially true for the energy industry since these processes can be perfectly integrated into our business. In the field of storage, in particular, the depleted gas fields and decommissioned assets in the area offshore of Ravenna offers us a unique opportunity to build a large hub for storing CO2 from upstream operations and production facilities onshore, like the Enipower thermoelectric stations. By twinning our broad knowledge of reservoir dynamics with new technologies, we aim to build the world's largest centre for carbon dioxide capture and storage in the Middle Adriatic. We expect to start operations shortly, and then reach a storage capacity of 7 million tonnes of CO₂ per year by 2030 and 50 million tonnes per year from 2050. Overall, we expect to have the capacity to store 300–500 million tonnes of CO2 at this site. In Britain meanwhile, in October 2020 the Oil and Gas Authority gave us a licence for a storage project in Liverpool Bay in the eastern Irish Sea. The CCS project will also see the reuse of our depleted offshore deposits in the area, with an initial storage potential of up to 3 million tonnes/year and start-up of operations in 2025. Eni will be the operator for the storage and transport of CO₂, which will be captured by existing the industrial plants and future hydrogen production sites of the integrated HyNet North West project. Again in the UK, we have signed a cooperation agreement with the other partners taking part in the CCS Net Zero Teesside (Eni 20%) and North Endurance Partnership (Eni 16.7%) projects. The launch of the two projects will enable the decarbonization of the Teesside industrial district in the north east of the country. Here, the start-up of operations is planned for 2026, with an initial capture and storage capacity of 4 million tonnes/year of CO₂.

In terms of the utilization aspect, meanwhile, there could be excellent opportunities for integration with our operations in the natural gas and circular chemistry sectors.

Environmental impact

Whilst they may differ slightly from one another, one thing that all CCS and CCU technologies have in common is their ability to transform a limitation into a resource, creating opportunities for economic growth and environmental sustainability by reducing CO2 emissions. In the Ravenna area, for example, we could offer a significant opportunity for the local area and the engineering and mechanical companies there, which until now, have been working in gas production. And that’s not all. By integrating onshore production facilities with the nearby offshore CCS project, many more companies would be given the opportunity to decarbonize their activities. This would create a zero carbon industrial cluster which, as such, could attract new investment and generate new employment opportunities in a technologically advanced sector.

Generally speaking, what these systems do is capture the greenhouse gas generated by industry and other forms of human activity or found in the atmosphere and introduce it into a new production cycle,  that enhances it and adds value. The benefits of this in the case of CCU are twofold, since carbon dioxide then becomes a “raw material” that is used in various virtuous processes pertaining to the circular economy.  Furthermore, these processes can be used to help produce electricity from renewable sources.

International support for carbon capture, storage and reuse

CCS and CCU projects are also considered key to energy decarbonization by international organisations such as the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) and the International Energy Agency (IEA). In 2019, OGCI launched the CCUS KickStarter initiative to help lower costs, demonstrate the positive impact of pro-CCS and CCU policies and attract widespread commercial investment in the field. Today, CCUS KickStarter has seven international CCS hubs and four of them are expected to be operational by 2025. One of these is Net Zero Teesside in the UK, in which Eni is also involved. In addition, in September 2020, the IEA published the CCUS in Clean Energy Transitions, in which it stated that CCS and CCU will be crucial to achieving zero net greenhouse gas emissions and called for more investment in these technologies, which are now considered to be both reliable and safe.

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