Objective is to create technical standards for the development of carbon capture, storage, and usage technologies

The Brazilian Association of Technical Standards (ABNT) established a study committee in May of this year, for the standardization of Carbon Capture, Usage, and Storage technologies (CCUS). Leading the initiative is the Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Innovation (RCGI), funded by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) and by Shell of Brazil.

“The acronym CCS (carbon capture and storage) has been around for about ten years, but it has more recently gained the letter “U”, which stands for the “usage” of carbon to generate such products as materials to be included in concrete for civil construction projects and polymers that can be incorporated in fertilizers or special plastics, for example,” explains engineer Alberto J. Fossa, on the staff of the RCGI and the Study Committee Coordinator. “Our goal is to lay out technical standards that favor the development of this technological network for regulating capture mechanisms, establishing conditions and criteria for storing carbon, as well as specifying elements or products that use CO2 in their composition.”

The idea for creating the study committee arose within the scope of the Hydrogel Program, which is funded by Shell of Brazil and involves several institutions of the University of São Paulo (USP), under the leadership of the RCGI, as well as the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS). Hydrogel is composed of organic material and will be produced with molecules synthesized from CO2. When it is used in planted areas, the product granules degrade, thus releasing the carbon so that it can be stored in the soil. The program began in 2020 and is expected to come to a close by the end of next year. “Hydrogel is another example of a product made to use CO2,” says Fossa, who is a visiting researcher at the Institute of Energy and Environment of the University of São Paulo (IEE-USP) and began to specialize in technical standardization in the 1990s, when he was working for multinational companies.

According to Fossa, one of the activities of the committee will be to set forth standards by which to classify the characteristics of hydrogel. “For example, we want to determine the quantity of carbon captured by this product, how much carbon credit it can provide, including the production and usage cycle, and other technical regulatory possibilities regarding the subject. This type of information attracts the attention of investors in the technology being developed. If we are able to prove these benefits by means of an established standard, it is easier to share the technology with the whole world. Therein lies the importance of investing in standardization. This gives credibility to innovations,” Fossa states.

Value chain – The CCUS technical standards that will be prepared by the committee will not be limited to hydrogel. Fossa points out that, “The plan is to have a methodological calculation path that can be used for other products. The committee was created to foment debate on topics of interest to Brazil within the CCUS environment in general.”

Because it is at the ABNT, the Study Committee has gained international scope and participates in discussions on the subject at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which cares for standardization worldwide. “ISO currently hosts the TC 265 international forum that works within the CCS dimension but has been showing interest in expanding the range of its actions and in beginning to talk about the use of carbon,” says Fossa. “The forum was created more than ten years ago, at the suggestion of Canada, and so far it brings together more than 20 countries, such as Holland, France, Germany, China, England, and the United States. Now Brazil is also beginning to take part in it in order to advance discussions and to find out what other countries are doing within the scope of CCS.”

This participation is already paying dividends. “We are bringing a number of standards to Brazil that have been published at the international level regarding the technological characteristics of geological storage and of CO2 reinjection into deactivated oil wells, which can be used as CO2 reservoirs. This international information is important for work in the CCS area, which the RCGI has also been developing,” Fossa adds.

Another goal of the ABNT committee at the international forum is to encourage the inclusion of the issue of carbon use on the agenda of discussions on climate change. “When we talk about climate change, one of the main measures we must take has to do with mitigation, which involves all actions to avoid the emission of greenhouse gasses. The use of carbon is a fundamental element on this agenda, having a direct impact on the reduction of global emissions of greenhouse gasses.”

According to Fossa, several European countries, especially the Netherlands, are beginning to work with the use of carbon and welcome expanding discussions on the international level from CCS to CCUS. “Korea has also shown interest in standards focusing on the use of carbon,” says Fossa. “We are attempting to unite with partners who think along the same lines as Brazilians. On the international level, it is essential to have allies that one can count on: if no others are interested in a given topic, the agenda does not move forward.”

At the present time, the ABNT committee has around 30 members, including researchers connected with such educational institutions as USP, the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), and the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA), as well as professionals linked to the petroleum and natural gas sectors in Brazil. “During the second half of the year, we want to discuss for which national technologies we are going to develop new standards. We will begin the work in Portuguese so that it can be validated by the ABNT. At the end of next year, we intend to present several initiatives at the ISO forum, based on Brazilian experience,” Fossa concludes.