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Lack of port infrastructure risks stunting growth of carbon capture technology

Published on

19 March 2024

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First featured on TradeWinds

A lack of port infrastructure will be a big bottleneck if shipping is going to use onboard carbon capture technology in its decarbonisation journey.

Onboard carbon capture is a nascent idea where existing diesel engines and hydrocarbon fuels are used, but the CO2 emissions from them are captured after combustion rather than allowed to enter the atmosphere.

A number of companies have been trialling solutions, with at least one, Value Maritime in the Netherlands, already offering a solution for small and mid-size vessels.

However, the report from the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation in Singapore has evaluated how more thought needs to go into how the greenhouse gas will be removed from ships using the technology and then either sequestered or reused.

It found that there are a limited number of ports have the infrastructure to handle liquified CO2. Industrial carbon capture is seen by a growing number of heavy shore-based heavy emitters as a key tool to their decarbonisation.

The report authors looked at some of these located near ports, and noted many are still at the concept phase and have yet to go to final investment decision.

Transportation infrastructure has therefore not yet been built up, including port handling infrastructure.

The report states that any shipboard captured CO2 will likely need to be fed into a larger CO2 infrastuture network for the technology use to be economically feasible.

The report also notes that CO2 handling that is currently undertaken is for food grade CO2 and the authors point to limited operability between this grade of CO2 and that coming from ship exhausts.

Lack of port infrastructure to hinder growth of CO2 capture technology: report. GCMD concepts for CO2 oflfoading from ships. Photo: GCMD

The study was conducted with Lloyd’s Register and Arup, a UK-based environmental consultancy and is being published in time for the latest environment talks at the International Maritime Organization.

It notes that captured CO2 in its liquid form is likely the most efficient and cost-effective state to store and transport CO2, so has proposed four concepts for offloading CO2 from ships using OCCS, including swapping ISO containers, ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore transfers.

One safety concern over the use of CO2 raised in the report is the so-called triple point, the condition where the gas can exist in all three states, gas, liquid and solid.

Minor changes in temperature or pressure can lead to solid CO2, sometimes known as dry ice, and blockages in pipework.

On the release of the report, Professor Lynn Loo, GCMD chief executive of GCMD, said, the study high the safety and infrastructure build-up challenges that need to be addressed if onboard carbon capture is to be used.

“This study sheds light on these challenges, and highlights recommendations to holistically address these concerns for parties interested in advancing onboard carbon capture and storage, and liquid CO2 offloading concepts.”

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