Eni invests in research and innovation across the entire chain of capture, storage and use of CO2 (Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage - CCUS). Research plays a key role in the development of CCUS projects because new technologies will further reduce supply chain costs.
With regard to CO2 capture, the technological challenge is to develop an alternative to conventional processes based on the use of amine solvents (aqueous solutions of specific amines of different kinds). The technology currently being developed at Eni's laboratories is based on the use of innovative proprietary solvent mixtures containing ionic liquids. The key features of this innovation are: high flexibility in handling different gases containing CO2, high solvent stability, a capture principle that exploits both the chemistry and physical characteristics of CO2 and low toxicity.
Research and technology are also very important for the storage phase (CCS). Thanks to its vast experience in numerical modelling for the development of hydrocarbon fields, Eni applies innovative algorithms for simulation to study the interactions between CO2 and rocks and simulate the best storage solutions over time in relation to the geo-mechanical and geo-chemical characteristics of a reservoir. Such sophisticated approaches are only possible through the use of proprietary software and the computing power of the Eni Green Data Center in Ferrera Erbognone.
Regarding the use of CO2 (CCU), Eni is working on the mineralisation technology, a project at an advanced stage of development based on the reaction between CO2 and certain mineral phases, mainly magnesium and/or calcium silicates. This reaction is the subject of much attention from academia and business because it can permanently fix large amounts of CO2 in the form of inert, stable and non-toxic products. It is a process that occurs spontaneously in nature over geological timescales and it is simply reproduced and accelerated in industrial facilities. The innovation introduced by Eni in this area concerns the choice of a reactor-based solution to accelerate the reaction and the development of pozzolanic properties in the product through a simple post-synthesis treatment. These previously unreported characteristics make the material suitable for use as Supplementary Cementitious Material (SCM) in the formulation of high-standard Portland cements for use in the construction industry.