Can CDR “piggyback” on existing carbon capture research programs?

Several CDR approaches would benefit substantially from advances in carbon capture technologies that were designed to capture emissions from fossil fuel resources. Direct air capture, bio-CCS , and even biochar systems, for example, could all benefit from technical advances in carbon capture systems. What’s more, there seems to be renewed interest in Federally-funded carbon capture demonstrations in the US, as evidenced in part by this latest Request for Information from the Department of Energy (DOE) titled: “Testing advanced post-combustion carbon dioxide capture technologies at a large pilot scale.”

Today, however, CDR is largely  absent from the research and development agenda for carbon capture systems.

Pre-Combustion CO2 Capture

Above: The US National Carbon Capture Center focuses on “clean coal,” but it might benefit substantially from broadening its focus to include CDR techniques such as bio-CCS and Direct Air Capture.

A shared research agenda between CDR and fossil CCS could benefitboth communities, most importantly by enabling each community to get more funding. If carbon capture technologies are seen as more broadly applicable and more important for the fight against climate change, it is more likely that these technologies will get greater research funding. Framing CCS technologies as more than “clean coal” by including bio-CCS, for example, could help increase political support for CCS projects.

Bottom line: it is in the interest of both the fossil CCS and CDR communities to coordinate research agendas to ensure that investments in both fields generate the greatest returns.

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