C2V - CO2 to Value

Decarbonization Avenue : C2V - CO2 to Value

Significant efforts are being undertaken to capture CO2 emissions from a range of sources - point sources such as power plants and industries and even direct air carbon capture. But what is to be done with the large amounts of captured CO2?

One way is to sequester it by storing it somewhere. The other way is to utilize it to produce valuable products.

Currently, the largest industrial application of CO2 is in the production of urea, with over 60% of all CO2 utilization being used for this. The second largest application of CO2 (about 30%) is its use in enhanced oil recovery, where CO2 is pumped into used oil fields to force out the remaining oil.

But CO2 has the potential to be used for many other large-scale applications, as carbon is a key element that makes up chemicals, fuels and more.. Significant research efforts are now on to use CO2 as an ingredient in concrete (where it can be used to cure cement and thus gets sequestered), in making chemicals, transport fuels, even food, with some companies even making diamonds from CO2. Large scale use of CO2 in these emerging applications however is likely to be in production of concrete and for production of chemicals and transport fuels.

Between technology and economics challenges for these emerging applications, the bigger challenge will be economics, and one can thus expect significant action in the 2020-2030 period in bringing down the cost of these products from CO2.

This is a field that has been generating a lot of excitement among researchers and innovators. As a result, in the 2020-2030 period, we can expect innovation and research efforts in diverse areas - some of them possibly exotic. Impactful innovation domains are likely to be in the conversion of CO2 to make building materials, commodity chemicals like formic acid, baking soda etc., and transport fuels.

Decarbonization potential

Current utilization of CO2 (mainly for urea production and enhanced oil recovery) will not suffice to sequester or remediate the large amounts of CO2 emissions happening globally. 

For CO2 utilization to make a real impact on decarbonization, its use should be explored for the production of other products used on a large scale. The following are such products/sectors:

  • Basic chemicals production (over 500 million tons a year)

    • Methanol (about 100 million tons of methanol produced every year)

    • Ethylene (about 165 million tons a year)

  • Oil - gasoline & diesel (world consumes over 4 billion tons of oil every year)

  • Cement/concrete (about 4.5 billion tons of cement and 10 billion tons of concrete are produced every year)

We are in the early stages of CO2 use in the above sectors. While the technology exists for CO2 conversion to these products, scalability of the technology and dramatically bringing down the cost of production are two challenges to be overcome.

Industries impacted

  • Chemicals & petrochemicals
  • Construction & real estate
  • Fertilizers
  • Food & beverages
  • Oil & gas
  • Packaging & plastics
  • Power

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Themes & Topics

  • Emerging products from CO2

    • CO2 to advanced materials

    • CO2 to building materials

    • CO2 to chemicals

    • CO2 to food

    • CO2 to fuels

    • CO2 to household products

    • CO2 to minerals

    • CO2 for plant growth

    • CO2 for premium consumer products

    • CO2 to textile fibers

    • CO2 to plastics

    • Power to X








  • Pathways

    • Thermochemical

    • Electrochemical

    • Biological

  • Catalysts

  • Enzymes

  • Education/capacity building

  • Collaboration

  • Policies

  • Case studies

  • Financing

  • Economics

  • Organizations & associations

  • Storage vs. utilization