A Concordia engineering research team will look into ways to reuse CO2 emissions. A first for this field of research, this project aims to help Canada reach its carbon-emission goals by 2050.
A research team from Concordia’s department of chemical and materials engineering, led by Yaser Khojasteh, was awarded $497,000 by the Climate Action and Awareness Fund, a federal government initiative to invest in Canadian projects that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
One of Canada’s goals for ecological transition is to become carbon neutral by 2050, which means that the Canadian economy would no longer emit greenhouse gases or would offset all of its emissions.
Some of the means of achieving carbon neutrality are what are known as carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) techniques. CCUS is the process of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) for the purpose of recycling it for future use. The captured CO2 can be converted into hydrocarbons (such as methanol) or plastics and concrete. It could even be utilized for various chemical syntheses.
Khojasteh explained that by 2030, industries will have to pay a tax on CO2 emissions. According to chapter 2 of Canada’s 2030 emissions reduction plan, beginning in 2023, the tax on every ton of carbon emitted will begin to increase by $15 every year until it reaches $170 per ton.
One of the research team’s goals is to find cheaper ways to capture and recycle CO2 to encourage industries to eliminate the carbon they produce. Khojasteh is hopeful that if they can find a way to make the process cheaper than the tax that companies will have to pay, recycling will be an easy decision.
“Eventually we can use renewable energy for, say, our electricity demand, but chemicals, polymer, these kinds of things we are always going to need and these are the [manufacturing] plants that are going to be in operation forever,” said Khojasteh.
CCUS techniques can often be very energy-consuming and expensive. Khojasteh explained that the carbon dioxide reutilization process often consumes a lot of hydrogen. The research team will therefore aim to find ways to reduce the hydrogen consumption or propose processes that require smaller amounts.
“We’re trying to explore different options, improve our process efficiency for the larger scale,” said Khojasteh. “It is something that hopefully will be ready soon because time is very limited. We know that, according to some projections, it could be a matter of a decade before the window is closed for reversible action.”