The Carbon Dioxide Utilisation Network

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CDU or CCU or CCR?

Since late 2012, CO2Chem’s UK membership has been discussing the terminlogy we use to describe our research. It had been felt for some time that there were too many different terms being used – CCU (carbon capture and utilization), CCSU (carbon capture, storage and utilization), CCR (carbon capture and recycling or reuse), CDU (carbon dioxide utilisation) to name a few.

During our December 2012 meeting at UCL, Peter Styring presented a case for the use of CDU (carbon dioxide utilization) as the terminology used within CO2Chem. We have many reasons for this, but primarily it best describes what we are trying to achieve, the use of carbon dioxide to create new, valuable products.

To this end you will now hear us using the term CDU in preference to any other. Below is a statement outlining our reasons for this. We welcome comments and discussion on our decision, but hope you will join us in adopting CDU as our communities standard term.

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is associated with CO2 mitigation from point sources (e.g. power stations). The term Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU) is so similar in nomenclature to CCS that it is seen as a sub-branch reliant on CO2 from a power station.  Carbon Capture and Reuse (CCR) communicates that the CO2 has been used in some way first, in many circumstances this is not true; the CO2 is a waste product from the industrial process.

Carbon Dioxide Utilization (CDU) implies that CO2 is used irrespective of its origin or purity. There is enough CO2 available from sources other than from CC units at present to provide a sustainable feedstock for CDU. Carbon Dioxide Utilization also implies the making and breaking of carbon-oxygen bonds to transform the carbon dioxide into a new chemical entity. This is different from Use or Reuse which refers to processes that use CO2 as a discrete species that enters and leaves the system unchanged as in EOR and foodstuffs. Carbon dioxide utilisation research is increasing at a dramatic rate globally and has the potential to ensure sustainability of chemical feedstock supplies.

CDU is not dependent on CO2 from carbon capture. It is a distinct technology although can be integrated with CCS for economic benefit. Therefore we feel it should be treated as such, not as a sub-branch or dependent. Using the term CDU, removes the reference to carbon capture (intrinsically linking it to CCS) and best describes what we are aiming to do – utilize CO2 to create valuable products.