A techno-economic and environmental life cycle assessment of plasma catalysis for the conversion of CO2 : towards the design of a novel carbon capture and utilization technology in an uncertain future
While the effects of climate change are becoming more and more obvious each year, our efforts to reduce these CO2 emissions have increased as well. In the chemical, cement and steel industries, however, CO2 emissions are proven much harder to reduce. For these so-called ‘hard-to-abate’ CO2 emissions, other solutions need to be found. The capture of CO2 emissions is part of the EU’s strategy to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) aims to capture, transport and permanently store CO2 in deep geological formations. However, storing the CO2 underground does not generate any revenues for the firm. The absence of an attractive business case has raised the attention of Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU). The captured CO2 is now utilized as an input to produce other valuable products. Hence, CCU offers a way to valorise the captured CO2. However, one problem arises: CO2 is a very stable molecule, which makes it challenging to transform the molecule into something else. This is where plasma catalysis enters the story. Plasma is a very reactive chemical mixture, that allows us to break the bonds in the CO2 molecule. Catalysis helps us to steer the reactions towards the desired end-products. The combination of reactivity and selectivity makes plasma catalysis a promising candidate for the conversion of CO2. As the technology is still under development in the laboratory, the question arises whether plasma catalysis can indeed become an economically and environmentally beneficial CCU technology. In this thesis, a Techno-Economic Assessment is performed, to translate the results from the laboratory, where the conversion of CO2 into chemicals in plasma catalysis is tested, into economic cashflows. In addition, an environmental Life Cycle Assessment is carried out, to calculate the environmental impacts that are produced by the whole CCU value chain. Finally, the potential complementary investment decisions in CCS and CCU technologies are analyzed in a Real Options Analysis. Here, the uncertainty about the CO2 price (in the EU Emissions Trading System) and the uncertainty about the technology readiness of CCU are taken into account. This thesis finds that the conversion of CO2 into chemicals in a plasma-catalytic environment is not yet economically feasible or environmentally desirable. To make the commercialization of the plasma-catalytic conversion of CO2 acceptable, the energy efficiency and the selectivity of the technology should be improved extensively. The insights from this thesis help to continue the quest for the right catalyst.
Antwerp : University of Antwerp, Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Engineering Management , 2023
264 p.
Supervisor: Compernolle, Tine [Supervisor]
Full text (open access)
Research group
Publication type
Publications with a UAntwerp address
External links
Creation 22.09.2023
Last edited 29.09.2023
To cite this reference