According to the International Environment Agency (IEA), the hard-to-abate sectors represent over 20% of global emissions and are a signiﬁcant contributor to industrial residues. In the face of real climate crisis, these industries are under increasing pressure to act now and reduce emissions.
Carbon8, a UK-based global leader in carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), specializes in carbonation and mineralisation. Through its Accelerated Carbonation Technology (ACT), it captures CO₂ directly from the source to treat industrial residues, thereby manufacturing products that can be reused.
Recently, Carbon8 has teamed with AspenTech to use its Performance Engineering suite to further accelerate the development and deployment of its own patented CCUS solution and I had the chance to talk with Charlie Youell, head of engineering at Carbon8 to discuss what the relationship between the companies means to these hard-to-abate sectors.
Gerardo Munoz (GM): Charlie, from Carbon8’s perspective, what are the main challenges with capturing CO2 emissions?
Charlie Youell (CY): Good to talk with you Gerardo. Heavy industries like cement, steel and EfW are having to balance economic and financial pressures with the non-negotiable demands for carbon reduction. The scale of the problem and the speed at which solutions need to be adopted presents a clear challenge.
Cement production, for example, by some estimates, accounts for as much as 8% of the global total of GHGs emitted. As chemical and energy producers develop strategies to meet global carbon mitigation targets, typically a 45% reduction in carbon levels by 2030 and net zero carbon by 2050, many find it challenging to identify solutions that deliver the level of promised carbon reduction by established deadlines.
A huge focus has been on capturing the CO2 and disposing of it, or carbon capture and storage (CCS). Industrial clusters with geological storage of CO2 will be required to accommodate the scale of the decarbonization needed. However, it must be acknowledged that although clusters can address some of the required scale, they also depend on a huge amount of investment and will be geographically bound. This is why heavy and asset-intensive industries require a suite of CCU and CCS solutions to meet decarbonization targets.
It is against this background that solutions like Carbon8’s can play a role. Industries need cost-effective alternatives that are readily available today, to help them to decarbonize their processes.
GM: How does Carbon8 technology help address these challenges?
CY: Carbon8 is a cleantech company specialising in CCUS resulting in the permanent sequestration of the captured carbon, specifically in the mineralisation of CO2. In the process, we also directly treat industrial thermal residues and, with the controlled exposure to CO2, we produce a carbon-negative aggregate, capable of being reused in the construction industry. Through this, we enable circularity through permanent carbon sequestration.
Carbon8’s Accelerated Carbonation Technology (ACT) is housed in a containerised system, called the CO₂ntainer, which captures CO2 at a point source to use it as an ingredient for the carbonation of industrial residues that would otherwise be heading for landfill. A container treats up to 12,000 tons of residues annually and produces the carbonated products onsite. These include carbon-negative aggregate, which have a variety of applications including in the construction industry.
The solution is readily available and already in operation at Vicat’s cement plant in Montalieu, France.
GM: Why is it significant that AspenTech and Carbon8 are collaborating?
CY: The only way we will meet net zero targets is through collaborations across different sectors and specialisms. Asset-intensive industries cannot stand alone if they are to meet emissions reductions targets – they must work together with new partners and innovate, both in terms of technology and the way they operate their businesses.
AspenTech has decades of expertise and experience with digital solutions that are both cutting-edge and proven across chemical processes and sustainability applications. For Carbon8, as a start-up trying to scale at the fastest rate possible and to meet the demands of industry, working with an industry leader like AspenTech is a good example of how collaboration can be mutually beneficial when trying to accelerate the adoption and availability of sustainable technologies. At Carbon8 we can match this with our own expertise in developing and offering a real carbon capture solution that turns waste products into assets.
This collaboration will enable the further development, sophistication and scaling-up of our engineering capabilities, thereby strengthening our CCUS offer to the market. We’ll be able to draw upon the company’s breadth of knowledge and experience in our key industrial markets while sharing AspenTech’s view on sustainability that places equal importance on resource efficiency, the energy transition and the circular economy. This is all very exciting. All three directly align with our expertise, our technical capabilities and our future ambitions.
GM: What will the collaboration between our companies mean to Carbon8’s future?
CY: From a Carbon8 perspective, working with AspenTech will strengthen and consolidate our engineering and market offering. As a scaling company, we need reliable and market-leading tools.
AspenTech’s Performance Engineering suite will support the development of a smarter CCUS product and a digital twin for Carbon8’s CO₂ntainer, the carbon-capture containerised unit that is deployed at industrial plants. AspenTech’s digital twin technology will help us improve process design, giving us the modelling capabilities and insights that deliver new levels of operational excellence. We will be able to make evidence-based decisions in support of carbon management strategies.
More broadly, this means that we will continue to develop our technology, accelerate our growth and offer customers a readily available carbon capture solution for heavy industry that decarbonizes and utilizes wastes traditionally destined to landfill. We’re looking forward to AspenTech’s innovative technology to support us in our journey.