Landmark study on offloading onboard captured carbon dioxide identifies low port readiness

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A recent study commissioned by the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD), in collaboration with Lloyd’s Register and ARUP, has identified low port readiness as a major hurdle bottlenecking the adoption of Onboard Carbon Capture and Storage (OCCS) system as a practicable decarbonisation solution. Whilst the technologies required for offloading onboard captured CO2 exist at high levels of maturity, safe operationalisation of captured CO2 transfer by trained personnel has not been demonstrated.

The report, titled “Concept study to offload onboard captured CO₂”, found that while a limited number of ports possess the infrastructure to offload liquefied CO2 (LCO2), they are primarily designed to handle food-grade CO2. The higher purity standards that accompany this use limits the interoperability of facilities to handle onboard captured CO2.

The study examined over 10 planned LCO2 related infrastructure projects worldwide. Located near, or with transport links from, CO2-emitting industrial clusters, these projects are likely to handle much larger volumes of captured CO2 than that from OCCS systems; port infrastructure needed for offloading, storing and transporting onboard captured CO2 will likely need to be integrated with these projects for economies of scale. However, as many of such projects remain in concept phase and have not reached Final Investment Decision (FID), ports have not proceeded with offloading infrastructure investments. This chicken-and-egg dilemma highlights the overall infancy of the carbon value chain.

Furthermore, introducing LCO2 offloading into already complex port operations will likely impact port efficiency and operational performance. The need for additional buffer zones to address the safety concerns of LCO2 handling and storage will also add to existing space constraints at ports and terminals.

Professor Lynn Loo, CEO of GCMD, said, “While pilots have successfully demonstrated numerous capture technologies onboard ships, it is still uncertain how captured carbon on merchant ships can be safely offloaded, and what the rest of the value chain looks like. This study sheds light on these challenges, and highlights recommendations to holistically address these concerns for parties interested in advancing OCCS / LCO2 offloading concepts.”

Nick Brown, LR CEO said: “The maritime industry requires a comprehensive understanding of the safety and operational challenges posed by all emission reduction technologies. This study, which focused on port readiness and considerations for the safe handling and offloading of LCO2, addresses some of the gaps that exist in the carbon capture value chain and will support industry stakeholders in making informed investment decisions around carbon capture solutions and the creation of regulatory and operational guidelines.”

Robert Cooke, Design Lead of Arup said, “As a result of the study, it has been promising to see how transferable existing CO2 industrial knowledge is to an offloading application. Arup brought together energy and maritime capabilities to outline the concepts for onboard captured CO2 offloading and develop how this new process can practically and safely integrate into busy port environments. We look forward to seeing the technologies and implementation develop into effective marine decarbonisation solutions.”

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