Techno-economic Metrics of Carbon Utilization – Part 1

This article looks at the technological and economical parameters of carbon utilization and how these parameters vary widely depending on external and technology-specific variables.

This two-part article presents a techno-economic analysis of the following nine carbon utilization technologies:

  • Methanation
  • Methanol
  • Fischer-Tropsch
  • Oxo Synthesis
  • Carbonation
  • Xylenes
  • Urea
  • Polyols
  • Polymeric Carbonates

We show how parameters vary widely depending on external and technology-specific variables. Specifically, the high cost of green hydrogen makes the production of fuels and other products free of oxygen from captured CO2 impractical. Yet, considering the very high potential value of SAF, product mandates on low-carbon products can change this equation and make carbon use economically viable, even with higher hydrogen costs. Furthermore, carbon can be used in high value niche chemicals, especially if they contain oxygen. An important factor to consider is the carbon intensity of the hydrogen consumed. Combining hydrogen-intensive technologies with low carbon intensity can reduce the net carbon use of hydrogen, and the carbon intensity of fuel and power imports, which also impacts decarbonization.

In Part 1 of this two-part series, we explain how the CO2 and hydrogen usage varies for the different technologies and demonstrates that the potential cash flow largely depends on the cost of green hydrogen, the oxygen content of the product, product pricing and the abatement value of CO2. The second part of this series, coming soon, dives deeper into the carbon utilization technology economics by investigating the capital expenditure for the different technologies on the one hand and the impact of the carbon intensity of green hydrogen, power and fuel consumed on the other.

Published in Decarbonisation Technology, August 2022 Issue.