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Global innovation in carbon capture technologies reaching record highs

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Innovation in carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) technology is reaching historic highs, according to the latest patent data analysis from Appleyard Lees.

Notable areas of innovation among the latest patent applications include modular carbon capture systems, roadside CO2 recovery devices and continued investment in direct air capture, with filings in the latter almost doubling in the 12 months to 2021.

Appleyard Lees Partner and Patent Attorney, David Walsh, said: “The outlook for the carbon capture industry is very positive. With increasing government support and public pressure to reach carbon neutrality, further innovation and a significant increase in deployment of CCUS systems seems likely.”

Recent government policy across key geographies is likely to contribute to the growing innovation in CCUS, namely the US Inflation Reduction Act 2022, the EU’s Net Zero Industry Act and the UK’s spring budget from this year, including £20 billion of investment for CCUS projects.

The US is dominating CCUS-related patent filings, increasing by more than 100% (68 to 144) from 2020 to 2021. This is 100 more new filings than its nearest rival, South Korea, which increased its patent activity by only a third year-on-year (33 to 44). In comparison, the UK recorded only six patent applications in the latest figures.

Among the innovations revealed in the latest patent data, modular (or semi-modular) carbon capture systems aim to reduce the cost of installing the technology in industrial facilities, such as the solution to be supplied by Aker Carbon Capture to renewable energy company, Ørsted, in Denmark.

In the transport sector, capturing carbon emissions created by hybrid vehicles via CO2 recovery devices situated along a road is an innovation patented by Toyota, while Volkswagen has made filings relating to CCUS devices for cars.

While amine-based solutions for carbon capture are well-established, Swiss-based, Climeworks, are innovating with solid versions of the technology, using porous material that binds and traps CO2 to its surface.

Meanwhile, patents are now being filed for semi-permeable membranes that filter and separate CO2 from a gas stream.

Appleyard Lees Attorney, Ashley Wragg, said: “Our research shows that, while flue gases from power stations and industrial chemical operations remain a priority for carbon capture, solving the problem of polluted air has become the primary area of innovation in recent years. But a similar focus on applying carbon capture to industries which are difficult to decarbonise could be the beginning of a trend for innovations aimed explicitly at the cement industry and engine emissions.”

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