The transition to a decarbonized future: Carbon Capture and Use

Carbon Capture, Use and Storage is a technology which is used to capture large emissions of CO2 released into the atmosphere from stationary point sources such as power plants and energy intensive industrial processes (pulp and paper, steel and oil refineries, etc.). The technology can be integrated into the combustion of fossil fuels during energy generation, where CO2 is captured and transported to the “storage bank” in order to isolate it from the atmosphere.
CCUS involves three major steps; capturing CO2 at the source, compressing it for transportation and then using it in different applications or injecting it deep into a rock formation at a carefully selected and safe site, where it is permanently stored.
In the past, DICI research on CCUS has been devoted on the Capture phase, i.e. the separation of CO2 from other gases produced at large industrial process facilities such as coal and natural-gas-fired power plants, steel mills, cement plants and refineries. Research at DICI has been conducted on all the options, with particular focus on oxyfuel combustion, in which the combustion of fuel takes place with a mixture of oxygen and recycled flue gas (RFG). The applications for gas combustion in a O2–RFG mixture are both the retrofit of existing fired utility boilers and the building of new ones expressly designed for this technology.
Deployment of CCUS on a scale that makes a material contribution to reducing CO2 emissions requires addressing current barriers, which include: cost, complexity along the value chain, regulatory/policy uncertainty, public acceptance, large-scale storage sites and long-term liability issues.
More recently efforts have been focused on CO2 recycle market. Two categories, direct utilization of CO2 and conversion of CO2 to chemicals and energy products, can be used to classify different forms of CO2 utilization. Regarding the direct utilization of CO2, in addition to its use in soft drinks, welding, foaming, and propellants, as well as the use of supercritical CO2 as a solvent, are being considered with different levels of technology readiness. The conversion of CO2 to chemicals and energy products can be achieved mainly through i) photosynthesis to directly fix carbon into microalgae, which can then be digested to produce biogas/biomethane; ii) co-electrolysis with water using renewable/surplus energy to produce syngas and then methanol; iii) direct catalytic hydrogenation of CO2 to methanol

Carbon Capture Options

Research group

Federica Barontini,
Elisabetta Brunazzi,
Chiara Galletti,
Cristiano Nicolella,
Leonardo Tognotti

External collaborations:
Enel Produzione- Fondazione Internazionale Ricerca sulla Combustione ( IFRF)- Analisi e simulazione di sistemi in ossi-combustione (2008-2012)

EU RELCOM: Reliable and Efficient Combustion of Oxygen/Coal/Recycled Flue Gas Mixtures: 2012-2015.



Main publications:

  • Coraggio, G; Tognotti, Leonardo; Cumbo, D; Rossi, N; Brunetti, J (2011) ; “Retrofitting oxy-fuel technology in a semi-industrial plant: Flame characteristics and NOx production from a low NOx burner fed with natural gas” Proceedings of the Combustion Institute,33,2,3423-3430
  • Barontini Federica, Enrico Biagini, Federico Dragoni, Elisa Corneli, Giorgio Ragaglini, Enrico Bonari, Leonardo Tognotti, Cristiano Nicolella (2016) Anaerobic digestion and co-digestion of oleaginous microalgae residues for biogas production, Chemical Engineering Transactions, VOL. 50
  • Galletti, Chiara; Coraggio, Giovanni; Tognotti, Leonardo (2013 a); “Numerical investigation of oxy-natural-gas combustion in a semi-industrial furnace: validation of CFD sub-models (2013)” Fuel,109,,445-460
  • Federica Barontini, Chiara Galletti, Cristiano Nicolella, Leonardo Tognotti GHG Emissions in industrial activities: the role of technologies for their management and reduction , Agrochimica Special Issue 2019