Study flags port infrastructure as barrier to CCS for shipping

A new study led by the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation has found that unloading CO2 at ports around the world is a major potential barrier to carbon capture for shipping.

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Onboard carbon capture and storage (OCCS) has recently gained traction as a potential interim solution to help international shipping meet its emissions reduction targets. While achieving emissions reductions through OCCS hinges on successfully integrating a shipboard-compatible system within space constraints, dealing with captured CO2 presents another set of challenges.

Carried out in collaboration with Lloyd’s Register and ARUP, the study found that while a limited number of ports possess the infrastructure to offload liquefied CO2 (LCO2), they are primarily designed to handle food-grade CO2. As food grade CO2 demands higher purity standards than carbon capture, there is limited scope for interoperability between facilities.

“While pilots have successfully demonstrated numerous capture technologies onboard ships, it is still uncertain how captured carbon on merchant ships can be safely offloaded, and what the rest of the value chain looks like,” said Professor Lynn Loo, CEO of GCMD.

“This study sheds light on these challenges, and highlights recommendations to holistically address these concerns for parties interested in advancing OCCS/LCO2 offloading concepts.”

The study determined that captured CO2 in its liquefied form is likely the most efficient and cost-effective option for onboard storage and transport. Based on this, the study identified four concepts covering key offloading modalities, such as Ship-to-Ship and Ship-to-Shore, serving as building blocks that can be combined to cover a wider range of offloading concepts. Using an intermediate LCO2 receiving vessel was deemed the most promising option for offloading at scale, with captured CO2 eventually sequestered or used as a feedstock for manufacturing synthetic fuels.

“The maritime industry requires a comprehensive understanding of the safety and operational challenges posed by all emissions reduction technologies,” said Nick Brown, CEO of Lloyd’s Register.

“This study, which focused on port readiness and considerations for the safe handling and offloading of LCO2, addresses some of the gaps that exist in the carbon capture value chain and will support industry stakeholders in making informed investment decisions around carbon capture solutions and the creation of regulatory and operational guidelines.”